Stain Removal Tips for Swimwear

Swim season is upon us and sometimes….stains happen!

When those stains happen on our regular laundry we’re armed with our regular stain removal tools and the Molly’s Suds Stain Guide. When they happen on our brand new $100+ swimsuit we panic and rightfully so. For swimwear, you want to use a gentle laundry detergent that won’t damage the fabric.

Molly’s Suds Guide to Swimwear Stain Removal

How to Remove Tanning Oil or Sunscreen. 

Chances are, this will happen when you’re unable to deal with it right away. In the moment, remove any remaining lotion with a dull edge, such as a spoon or credit card. Sprinkle the stain with sand and let it sit for at least fifteen minutes to absorb the excess oil. As soon as you can, pretreat the sunscreen stain with a small amount of SWIM detergent. Work it in with your fingers or a Laundry Stain Brush and let it sit for 15-30 minutes. Launder as usual. (Dish Soap can also be used in a pinch.)

How to Remove Self-Tanning Lotions. 

This is tricky — after all, the whole point of a self-tanner is to ‘stain’ your skin to look darker. Most self-tanning liquids contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which is the color additive that stains your skin. This is also the additive that creates some seriously stubborn stains on clothing. 

Because these formulas are a combination of stain and oil, start by removing the oil by following the steps to remove tanning oil. Then, tackle the dye stain. The longer the stain remains, the harder it will be to remove. Remember, a stain will not always immediately appear, so if you think you’ve gotten some self-tanner on fabric, start treatment right away. 

Flush the stain with cold water (hot water will set the stain!), letting the water flow from the inside out to push the stain out of the fabric instead of deeper into the fibers. Put Dish Soap onto a sponge with warm water and gently sponge the stain. Rinse in cool water, and immediately wash with your regular laundry detergent. (Don’t use normal laundry detergents on suits except in this instance.) If the stain remains, mix a fresh solution and repeat, allowing it to soak longer. It may take several cycles to remove the stain. 

Avoid bleach or Oxygen Whitener, as these can react with the chemicals in the tanning lotion. In a pinch, use fresh lemon juice and a layer of salt or baking soda. Let it dry several hours and then repeat. 

How to Remove Wine Stains. 

If you’re poolside, you really should have a glass of something delightful in hand. But a glass of red wine and a white suit is a recipe for stains. If you get a splash on your suit, blot the stain to remove as much of the stain as possible. Then, as soon as you can, whip it off and soak the suit in cool water with a splash of SWIM detergent or Oxygen Whitener. Don’t have any on hand? Find some table salt, wet it, and allow it to sit on the fabric until totally dry. Brush the excess away, then rinse inside out in cool water. Repeat several times if necessary. 

How to Remove Tea and Coffee Stains. 

As soon as possible, place the swimsuit in cool water with Stain Spray applied to the affected area. Soak with a gentle detergent. Launder as directed. 

To learn how to wash & care for swimwear be sure to check out these other helpful articles:

Swimsuit Care Tips

How to Store Swimwear After Swim Season has Ended

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