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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Sunscreen Oil Stains

By Dr. Laundry October 15, 2009

Q. Your 800 number just seemed to address an oil or cream stain from sunscreens. My problem is the pinkish stains from the sunscreen reacting with my body oils and/or sweat. These new SPF screens at 55 and above have really made a mess of my white shirts. I have tried soaking in OxiClean® with no success.

A. So I assume you tried the pretreat method I recommended on the 800 #? My guess is that you may need to pretreat the spot/area using either liquid dishwasher (Dawn) or detergent to solubilize the oils (apply, rub in, wait 3-5 minutes), and then wash immediately in the warmest water recommended on the care label using detergent and 3/4 cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach (for whites) or for colors Clorox2® Stain Fighter and Color Booster, our oxygen bleach based on hydrogen peroxide. If the stain is grease/oil-based, you’ll want to avoid water when treating the stain. The presoaking in OxiClean® probably fails since it does not have enough surfactants needed to dissolve the grease/oil portion and the small amount in the product becomes diluted when used as presoak. I believe the pretreat recommended above might be better.