Sunscreen Stains on Leather? Learn How to Remove Them Safely

Modern sunscreens contain active ingredients like avobenzone, oxybenzone, octinoxate, and octocrylene. These help protect the skin by absorbing UV radiation. However, they also leave behind oily residues that can stain leather goods. These unsightly stains can set and potentially cause permanent damage if ignored over time.

When sunscreen comes in contact with leather, its oily components form a film that adheres to the leather grain. It causes discoloration in the form of smears or white residues on the surface. The longer the stain remains, the deeper it can penetrate the leather pores.

To prevent permanent sunscreen stains, it's crucial to act fast. After the stain occurs, swift action taken as soon as possible gives you the best chance of lifting it out while minimizing absorption below the surface. With prompt, careful treatment using mild leather-approved cleaners, recent sunscreen stains can often be removed thoroughly and safely.

Let’s take a look at how to get sunscreen out of leather:

Step 1: Act Quickly

Time is of the essence when you want to remove sunscreen from leather. Lingering sunscreen allows the oils time to bond with the leather fibers, making them much harder to dislodge. Take action as soon as possible once you notice the sunscreen smear or residue:

  • After use, inspect leather items closely in natural light for any greasy smears or white sunscreen residue on the surface. When applying sunscreen, look carefully at handles, edges, and other areas prone to touching.

  • Have leather-appropriate cleaning solutions ready to treat the stain immediately rather than searching for supplies. Pre-mix a gentle soap solution or acquire a specialty leather cleaner suitable for your leather type.

  • At first sight of the stain, gently dab it using a clean paper towel to absorb as much excess sunscreen as possible from the surface before the liquid soaks in further. Avoid aggressive rubbing motions, which may push the oils deeper into the leather grain.

Catching and pre-treating sunscreen stains promptly prevents the active ingredients from soaking too deeply into the leather pores and enhances your chances of quick, effective removal. Don't delay treatment once you notice sunscreen smears on the leather.

Step 2: Blot Gently

Before applying any cleaning solutions, use a fresh paper towel or clean dry cloth to blot the stained area gently. This helps wick up and absorb any pooled or excess sunscreen on the leather surface without forcibly pushing it deeper into the grain. It is also essential when it comes to removing sunscreen from car interior.

  • Place an absorbent, lint-free cloth or paper towel directly over the stain. Press it down very lightly.

  • Maintain consistent gentle pressure and move the blotting material in a patting or rolling motion over the stain to absorb residues without vigorous scrubbing or friction.

  • Lift and rotate to a clean area of the cloth periodically. Check the fabric - if it still shows traces of the stain, continue blotting with fresh sections until no more residue transfers.

This crucial first step prepares the leather for further cleaning by soaking up excess oils that may otherwise hinder stain removal. Take care not to rub the area aggressively and worsen the stain.

Step 3: Test in a Hidden Area

Testing your chosen cleaning solution on an inconspicuous portion of the leather item, like an inner seam or underside, is wise. This verifies it will safely clean without altering the leather's finish or color.

To test for color-fastness:

  • Wet a clean cotton ball, swab, or pad with the prepared cleaning solution.
  • In a hidden spot like an inside fold or underside, gently rub or press the cotton onto the leather surface for 10-20 seconds.
  • Allow it to dry thoroughly, then inspect the test spot closely for any dye transfer, discoloration, darkening, or other visible changes from the cleaning solution.

This simple precaution ensures your cleaning method is compatible with the leather finish and prevents mishaps. If you notice any change or damage, adjust the solution strength or try a different cleaner before using it on the stained area.

Step 4: Leather Cleaner or Mild Soap Solution

To safely tackle sunscreen stains, use either a mild soap solution mixed with water or a specialty leather cleaner explicitly designed for that leather type. Harsh chemicals or products with unknown ingredients could damage the leather.

To make a simple sunscreen stain pre-treatment:


  • Add 2-3 drops of a gentle liquid hand or dish soap without dyes, perfumes, or other additives into 1 cup of lukewarm distilled water.
  • For darker leathers prone to discoloration, choose a fragrance-free transparent liquid soap.
  • Mix thoroughly until the soap fully dissolves into the water. Avoid suds.

For a specialty leather cleaner:


  • Read product labels closely and select one explicitly suitable for your leather item's finish and color.
  • Follow instructions to dilute with water in the proper ratios for mild cleaning.

The resulting solution should be a gentle, non-alkaline liquid safe for use on leather.

Step 5: Apply the Cleaning Solution

With the prepared mild cleaning solution and blotting steps done, it's time to begin gently applying it to the sunscreen-stained leather area. Carefully work the solution into the stain without oversaturating the leather.


  • Use a soft, lint-free cloth, microfiber towel, sea sponge, or other application tool designed for delicate surfaces.
  • Lightly tamp the pre-moistened cloth against the stain to transfer the cleaning solution. Avoid vigorous motions that could irritate the leather.
  • Maintain consistent gentle pressure, working in a dabbing or rolling motion to coax the cleaning solution into the stained area without forceful scrubbing.
  • Turn the cloth frequently and re-moisten with a solution if it begins to drag.

The goal is to loosen the sticky sunscreen oils so they emulsify and can be lifted away while avoiding damage to the leather finish.

Step 6: Blot and Repeat

Once you've gently applied the cleaning solution to the stain, the next step is blotting. Press a fresh, dry, absorbent cloth against the treated area to soak up the cleaning solution and the emulsified sunscreen residue it has loosened.


  • Check the absorbent cloth for any signs of transfer - sunscreen residues will appear yellow or white.
  • If residue still transfers, reapply the leather cleaner with a clean, damp cloth and blot again with a new dry section.
  • Allow the leather to air dry thoroughly between repeat applications.
  • More than one cleaning cycle may be required to lift out stubborn sunscreen stains fully.

Proper blotting prevents over-wetting the leather while removing the cleaning agents and dissolved stain particles from the surface. Check for transfer and repeat steps if needed for maximum stain removal.

Step 7: Rinse with Clean Water

Once cleaning is complete, it's important to gently wipe over the area using a fresh cloth dampened with plain, clean water. Avoid chemical-laden tap water. This water rinsing step helps ensure all soap solution residues are thoroughly rinsed away.


  • When rinsing leather after cleaning treatments, use distilled or filtered water for best results.
  • Wear the cloth well so it is slightly damp - avoid oversaturating the leather.
  • Make a single pass over the cleaned area to rinse away any leftover suds and cleaning product buildup.

This prevents soap deposits, or water rings on the leather once it dries. Rinsing properly provides a clean, residue-free surface.

Step 8: Pat Dry

Thorough drying after the cleaning and rinsing is imperative to prevent watermarks or discoloration on the leather surface. Gently pat the leather using soft, dry, absorbent towels until all moisture is lifted.

  • Avoid rubbing or scouring the leather grain during drying, as this can cause damage. Instead, gently press and lift blotting towels to absorb moisture.
  • Rotate to dry sections of the towel frequently as the leather dries out.
  • Allow the leather to completely air dry naturally before use. Avoid hairdryers or other direct heat drying methods.

Careful patting and air drying maintain the leather's natural suppleness and protect its delicate grain from accidental harm during drying.

Step 9: Leather Conditioner

Once fully dry after cleaning, apply a good quality leather conditioner to nourish and moisturize the treated area. Choose a conditioner specifically formulated for your leather item's finish and color. This helps restore the oils that cleaning removed.


  • Test first in an inconspicuous area to verify compatibility and lack of discoloration or damage.
  • Use a small amount of conditioner, smoothing over the cleaned area using gentle circular motions as directed.
  • Avoid over-saturation. Buff gently with a clean, soft cloth to remove any excess.

Leather conditioners nourish and replenish oils to help retain suppleness and luster after the rigors of stain removal. It is a crucial step when it comes how to remove sunscreen from car interior.

Step 10: Allow to Air Dry

After cleaning and conditioning, allow the leather item to finish drying entirely at room temperature before wearing or handling. Keep it in a well-ventilated spot away from direct sunlight or heat sources.


  • Leather can stiffen and crack if it does not dry thoroughly from the cleaning process. Avoid placing near heating vents, stoves, etc.
  • Direct sun exposure can cause fading of colors and damage, too.
  • Air circulation will help the remaining moisture dissipate so the leather retains its texture.
  • Check for damp spots - dry further with a cloth before use.

Only when 100% dry is the leather ready for regular wear and use without risk of damage.

Seek Professional Help

For cleaning precious heirloom leather pieces, expensive designer leather goods, or severe sunscreen staining, consider taking the item to a professional leather cleaning specialist. Professionals have access to specialized products, tools, and techniques.

Seeking professional stain removal is advisable if:


  • The leather item is valuable or meaningful, and you want safety assurance.
  • Unsure about identifying the exact leather type or its appropriate cleaning methods - incorrect cleaning can permanently mar leather.
  • Despite home cleaning attempts, sunscreen stains are extensive or have set in over time.
  • The leather has become excessively dried out or damaged due to sunscreen staining.

With years of experience, specialists may be able to recondition even severely stained and damaged leather to recover its beauty and value.

Prevention Tips

While stains can certainly happen, you can take steps to avoid sunscreen ever contacting and staining your leather possessions in the first place:


  • Apply sunscreen thoroughly before donning leather clothing accessories or entering a leather-interior vehicle. Let soak in so no excess is sitting on top of the skin.
  • After sunscreen, wash hands or wipe down the skin with a dry towel before handling leather items. This prevents the transfer of oils onto the material.
  • Use covers, cloths, or towels as a barrier between sunscreen skin and leather surfaces.
  • Keep leather goods protected and isolated during transport to sunny locales where sunscreen is used, like the beach.
  • Handle leather cautiously in situations or places where sunscreens are actively applied, such as at the pool or on boats. Keep at a distance from sunscreen-coated skin or application sites.

You can prevent sunscreen from ever staining your leather belongings with proper care by avoiding contact between the two altogether.


Oily sunscreen smears on leather can be exasperating, but with knowledge and prompt action, you can, in fact, safely tackle these stains at home. Swiftly blotting, gently cleaning, and rinsing the leather prevent sunscreen from soaking in and bonding with the leather grain.

Avoid harsh scrubbing and always properly dry and condition the leather after cleaning. For tough stains on precious items, see a leather care professional. You can restore your leather goods to their former glory after sunscreen stains with the proper techniques.


Can you get sunscreen out of leather?

Yes, it's possible to remove sunscreen from leather. Quickly blot the area, then clean it with a mild soap and water solution to prevent the sunscreen oils from penetrating deeply. After cleaning, condition the leather to restore its moisture. This method is effective for recent stains.

How do you get dried sunscreen off leather seats?

To remove dried sunscreen from leather seats, start by rehydrating the stain with a slightly damp cloth. Then, apply a solution of lukewarm water and clear liquid dish soap with a sea sponge. After dabbing the stain, rinse with a clean, damp cloth and dry thoroughly. For tough stains, repeat the process. Finally, apply a leather conditioner to maintain the leather's condition.

How do you get sunscreen lotion off leather seats?

For sunscreen lotion on leather seats, first blot up any excess lotion. Then, use a solution of clear dish soap and lukewarm water, applied with a lint-free cloth or sea sponge, to gently clean the stain. Rinse the area with a cloth dampened with water and dry it thoroughly. If the stain persists, repeat the cleaning process. Always finish by conditioning the leather to restore its moisture.

How do you get sunscreen off the car interior?

To clean sunscreen off a car interior, vacuum the seats first to remove loose debris. Then, use a cleaning solution of distilled water and white vinegar. Gently wipe the stained areas with a microfiber cloth dampened with this solution. Follow up with an automotive leather cleaner and conditioner to maintain the leather's quality. Testing cleaning solutions on a small area first is advisable to ensure they don't damage the leather.

Shop our collection of:

Black Leather Backpacks | Brown Leather Backpacks | Black Leather Handbags | Brown Leather Handbags

Related Posts:

Bei jeder Bestellung, jeden Tag!

Wir legen Wert auf Ihre Sicherheit

30 Tage Geld-zurück-Garantie

Support-Skype-ID: LeatherNeo

Ihr Warenkorb ist derzeit leer