How to Remove Sunscreen from Car Interior Using Household Items

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Last Updated on 9 months by Ollie Barker

How to Remove Sunscreen from Car Interior

Although sunscreen is beneficial to your skin, it is not something you want to see on your car’s vinyl or leather upholstery. The sunscreen easily stains your car’s inside, especially dark hues, leaving unsightly streaks and splotches that can make your car’s interior look unkempt. Moreover, most creams are waterproof or water-resistant, which means they won’t wash off. So, how to remove sunscreen from car interior?

How to Remove Sunscreen from Car Interior

The following are some common household items that can be used to remove sunscreen stains from vehicle seats.

1. Rubbing alcohol or white vinegar

Because they are common household goods, rubbing alcohol and white vinegar are both popular cleaning products that are effective at dissolving oil-based contaminants and are inexpensive techniques for cleaning your car’s inside.

To use these agents to remove sunscreen stains, spray or pour a moderate amount of the agents directly over the stain. The next stage is determined by the type of material used in your interior.

Interior made of leather

If you have leather seats, wipe the vinegar or alcohol on the seats with a non-abrasive sponge and then wipe it away with a microfiber towel right away. As leather is a natural product, strong chemicals or substances such as vinegar and alcohol can cause it to dry up and become damaged if left on it for too long.

Although most leather automobile interiors have a protective layer to ensure their longevity, you should keep the vinegar and alcohol away from them for as long as possible. Once you’re sure the sunscreen is gone, shower the area with warm water and let it dry thoroughly to ensure no residues of vinegar or alcohol remain.

Interior made of non-leather

Leave the vinegar or alcohol to absorb into the fabric for around 3-5 minutes if your car inside is made of a different material, such as polyester, for the greatest results. You’ll follow the same methods as before (spray and scrub). Rather than wiping away the cleaning agents right away, you’ll allow them a little more time to break up the sunscreen’s oils.

Note: Some people feel that a scrub brush is more efficient than a scrub pad for polyester. 

2. Soapy water

If you’ve ever tried to remove a stain from another surface, you’ve certainly noticed that soapy water is a tried and effective method for removing the stain and returning the area to its former state. Yet, you should really make sure that you follow the guidelines below to avoid causing any damage or utilizing something that you shouldn’t.

This procedure is quite adaptable and may be used on almost every interior surface in your vehicle, regardless of the material. With this procedure, you may discover that some stains are too stubborn to remove, which is great; you may switch to another if necessary. Nonetheless, any standard stain, old or new, should work with this one.

If the stain is fresh or has a tacky surface, start by cleaning away any residue with a gently damp wipe or tissue. If wiping doesn’t work, try blotting instead. This stage will just make the subsequent ones easier and less messy.

After you’ve wiped away the stain, you may begin preparing the stain-lifting mixture. Simply combine lukewarm water with any mild soap that will not damage your inside.

Scrub the stain gently with the mixture you’ve made using a sponge or washcloth, then repeat until the stain has gone to show the final outcome. Wipe dry with a clean washcloth. If the stain persists after your initial attempt, you may always try this procedure again or move on to another on this list!

3. Corn starch or baking soda

Another popular household ingredient that is regularly used for cleaning is baking soda. This procedure is usually recommended for fresh stains on more difficult car interior aspects, such as the carpet.

If your sunscreen stain is fresh, try blotting up as much as you can with a rag or paper towel before pouring baking soda on the afflicted area. Corn starch is a good substitute for baking soda if you don’t have any on hand.

Scrub the baking soda/corn starch into the cloth with a brush, then let it sit for 15 minutes. These are absorbent materials that, ideally, will soak up any residual sunscreen while it sits, allowing for simple removal. Scrap or vacuum up the absorbing agent after 15 minutes to see if the sunscreen is still there. If the sunscreen is still visible, repeat the procedure.

So, what happens if the sunscreen isn’t brand new? Don’t panic. You can still remove it using baking soda or cornstarch. In these situations, we recommend combining the baking soda with white vinegar (with a 1:2 ratio, one part baking soda, two parts white vinegar) to get a thick, paste-like solution that you may scrub into the cloth. Allow it to stay for 3-5 minutes (or more if it’s a really stubborn carpet stain) before cleaning it away to assess the stain.

4. Degreasers

Using a degreaser to remove sunscreen stains from the car’s interior is usually the best option way. Many professional interior cleaning businesses use this product for quick, clean results. However, it is the more expensive technique because it isn’t something that the average individual keeps on hand.

When it comes to degreasers, one thing to keep in mind is the terms of use. Many degreasers spray designed exclusively for car interiors can be used straight from the bottle, but some, particularly those purchased in jugs, may be too strong on their own and require diluting before use. So, before you buy or start using your favorite degreaser, check the company’s terms of service to be sure it’s safe to use.

Again, you just want enough cleaning agents to moisten the material. You don’t want to drench or oversaturate it, as this can cause damage and soak into underlying materials, such as seat cushions, where it can take a long time to dry.

The techniques for removing sunscreen with a degreaser are the same as for removing sunscreen with white vinegar or rubbing alcohol. Apply the cleaning agent, scrub it into the stain, let it set or remove it right away, depending on the material, then wipe away the degreaser and see whether you have to repeat the process.

Why do You want to Remove the Sunscreen from Your Car?

Many people are unaware that sunscreens are harmful to automobiles since they believe there is no danger in wearing one because its purpose is to protect us from UV rays when driving outside on hot days.

However, no amount of sunscreen will protect you from UV rays reflected off of cars and buildings, no matter how good it is.

Furthermore, because sunscreen is a petroleum-based substance that absorbs into these surfaces, it can harm dashboard surfaces and leather interiors.

Nobody likes a car with sunscreen spots on the dashboard or leather seats because they can’t appreciate the spotless dashboard or leather seats.

The sunscreen can cause damage to the exterior as well. Sunscreens can increase the likelihood of your car’s paint finish fading over time. This is due to the fact that they coat the paint’s surface, preventing a protective layer from growing on top of it.

They have the potential to render surfaces white. This is related to mineral deposits that some products leave behind when used too freely.

How To Avoid Future Sunscreen Stains on Your Car

To prevent sunscreen stains on the seats and dashboard, vacuum any loose dust and dirt from your car’s interior on a regular basis.

This will shield you from damaging UV rays while also preventing sunscreen from clinging to the tops of your seats. Over time, these can harm the leather’s surface.

Furthermore, you should use auto wax to protect your surfaces. Any deposits left behind by sunscreens can be removed with the help of a vehicle detailer.


Nobody wants to see white streaks all over their car’s seats, carpets, and dashboard, but the solution isn’t to quit wearing sunscreen. While eliminating sunscreen stains can be difficult, simple cleaning chemicals such as rubbing alcohol, white vinegar, or baking soda can typically get rid of them completely.

If you have a really stubborn stain or need a cleaning agent, you can keep it in your car and use it at any time. A car interior degreaser is a good choice.