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Can You Remove Old Sunscreen Stains from Leather? (How To)

A photo collage of a animal skinned leather and sunscreen

Many sunscreens are water resistant, they also have a greasy consistency which makes them difficult to remove. Leather is a unique material that needs special care. So, today I will cover if you can remove old sunscreen stains from leather.

As a general rule, you can remove old sunscreen stains from leather. Leather car seats have a different finish to other types of leather and therefore, you should use specialist leather cleaners that work particularly well. For any other type of leather use water and a small amount of mild soap.

Some people have reported that oil based cleaners work well to remove sunscreen. However, based on all my research I have not found that this works, and for all types of leather except leather car seats you should use a mild soap like dishwashing detergent or liquid hand soap. There is a method for how to clean sunscreen stains from leather, below I will explain it step by step detail.

Can You Remove Old Sunscreen Stains from Leather? (How To)

Sunscreen has many different ingredients that are designed to stay on your skin for a long time, and block UV rays. These same chemicals make it difficult to remove sunscreen with a damp cloth if it gets on leather. Here’s whether it’s possible to remove old sunscreen stains from leather.

In general, you can remove old sunscreen stains from leather. Overall, a damp cloth dipped in a mild soap works for most types of leather except for leather car seats. They have a different finish on top of the leather. There are specialist inexpensive cleaners that work well, explained below.

Some inexpensive brands that work well and are recommended by car groomers for removing sunscreen for leather car seats are: Mothers VLR Vinyl-Leather-Rubber Care

and Meguiar’s Super Degreaser. VLR can be sprayed on directly and comes in a spray bottle. Whereas, a 1 gallon concentrate of Meguiars should be mixed at a ratio of 1 part to 10 parts water in a spray bottle.

The thing about Meguiars is it also works very well for cleaning other areas of your car. So, a 1 gallon bottle that costs around $30 will last you for a long time.

The other product mentioned above VLR also works well but it’s far less inexpensive and costs under $10.

How to Remove Sunscreen Stains from Leather (Step by Step Guide)

A closeup shot of blue leather

How to remove sunscreen from leather depends on whether it’s on leather car seats, or on all other types of leather. The reason is leather car seats have a plastic type coating over the top that is different from what is used on other types of leather. Here’s a full step by step instructions for how to remove sunscreen stains from all types of leather.

Overall, you should apply a cleaner then rub it with a microfiber cloth. Then take a separate dry microfiber cloth and wipe off as much liquid as you can. For leather car seats use a leather car seat degreaser. For all other types of leather use a mild soap like dishwashing liquid.

Now that you have a high level overview of all the steps involved, here’s each of the steps in detail:

1. Get a damp microfiber cloth

Car leather seats are a bit different and you should use microfiber cloths. Microfiber cloths can also be used for all other types of leather but aren’t required. A regular soft fabric cloth similar to a face towel will work.

However, avoid using a rough cloth as it can damage or scratch the leather. For leather car seats you don’t need to dampen the cloth first. But, you will need 3 to 4 microfiber cloths. So, buy a pack online, or from your local auto parts store.

2. Dab it in some mild soap, or spray on specialist leather (for leather car seats)

For leather car seats spray a thin layer of the cleanser you are using on to the sunscreen stain. Just enough so that the entire area is wet and no more.

For other types of leather such as handbags dab the damp cloth into the liquid soap you are using, and rub it onto the sunscreen stain making the entire area slightly wet and not more. Mild liquid soap is the best thing to use to remove sunscreen stains from all types of leather except leather car seats.

3. Rub the area the cloth

For leather car seats rub the area back and forth 3 to 4 times using a microfiber cloth. The idea is to mix the leather cleanser with the sunscreen stain and rub it all together. For other types of leather do the same.

4. Wipe off the excess to make the leather mostly dry

Take a dry microfiber cloth and wipe off all of the excess. For leather car seats, as you rub it off, you can rub back and forth a few times to try to loosen the sunscreen as much as you can.

However, with any other type of leather such as a leather sofa, don’t rub too hard as it can damage the leather. But, if some of the leather is a little bit damaged a leather dye, or leather conditioner will almost always make it look brand new again.

5. Let it dry and see how much remains and repeat as necessary

After you’ve wiped off most of the water the leather will be mostly dry. If there’s some sunscreen remaining – which there typically is – it will be visible.

However, if there’s only a little bit it won’t show through until the leather is completely dry. In general, it takes 3 to 5 times of repeating this process to completely remove all of the sunscreen.

Can You Remove Sunscreen Stains from Leather Car Seats?

Putting on some sunscreen before heading to the beach or out on a very sunny day is a very good idea. But, when you go to sit in a car the sunscreen on your arms, and legs can rub onto leather car seats and is difficult to remove. So, this is how to remove sunscreen stains from leather car seats.

As a general rule, you can remove sunscreen stains from leather car seats. It’s best to use specialist cleaners recommended by car groomers such as Meguiar’s Super Degreaser, diluted – 10 parts water to 1 part degreaser. Or, Mothers VLR Vinyl-Leather-Rubber Care.

These can be used using the method described above which involves applying it to the stain, wiping it with a microfiber cloth, and then wiping it again with a dry microfiber cloth. Refer to the step by step instructions explained a bit further up that explain how to remove sunscreen stains completely from leather.

Can You Remove Sunscreen Stains from White Leather?

A closeup shot of a white leather

White leather shows through stains and dirt more easily than darker colors of leather. But, if sunscreen gets on it, it can still show through and be visible. So, here’s if it’s possible to remove sunscreen stains from white leather.

In general, you can remove sunscreen stains from white leather. In fact, it’s easier to clean sunscreen stains from white leather than darker colors of leather because minor amounts of sunscreen don’t show through.

For white leather car seats use specialist car grooming cleaners, for all other types of white leather use mild dish soap. I have provided in depth step by step instructions for how to remove sunscreen from leather near the top of this article. Scroll up a bit and start with step 1, which says ‘get a damp microfiber cloth’.

Can You Remove Sunscreen Stains from Leather Bag?

A photo of a brown leather bag

Leather bags can often be very expensive, and because you carry them in your hands and everywhere you go it’s easy to accidentally get sunscreen on them. This is a summary of if it’s possible to remove sunscreen stains from a leather bag.

This content is owned by Wabi Sabi Group and was first published on Aug 31, 2022..

As a general rule, you can remove sunscreen stains from a leather bag. But, not from raw leather bags. Raw leather bags are quite rare, and treated leather bags are the most common. Use mild dish soap and damp cloth to remove sunscreen stains from a leather bag.

I’ve put together step by step instructions for how to remove sunscreen stains from leather bags a bit further up in the article. In total there are 5 steps. Scroll up, and follow the instructions there for how to remove sunscreen stains from a leather bag.

Can You Remove Sunscreen Stains from Leather Upholstery?

A photo of a brown leather lounge chair

Leather upholstery looks particularly good but if you’re applying sunscreen to yourself, or have applied sunscreen to yourself some sunscreen can accidentally get on it. A few wipes with a damp cloth won’t remove it, especially once it has dried. Therefore, here’s the long and short of whether you can remove sunscreen stains from leather upholstery.

In general, you can remove sunscreen stains from leather upholstery. The cleaner that works the best is mild soap such as liquid hand soap or dishwashing detergent, and a damp cloth. Leather upholstery is more delicate than leather car seats so it’s important to only rub them very gently.

The general procedure is to lightly dab a damp microfiber cloth into some mild soap and then rub it onto the sunscreen stain. Rub it in gently, and rub back and forth and around and round 5 to 10 times. Then take a dry microfiber cloth and wipe off all of the liquid.

This article was first published on Aug 31, 2022 by Wabi Sabi Group..

Then inspect the area to see if any of the sunscreen stain is still there, and then repeat this procedure as many times as necessary to completely remove it. Generally, it will take 4 to 5 passes to completely remove all of the sunscreen.

Can You Remove Sunscreen Stains from Leather Sofa?

A photo of a leather sofa

A leather sofa needs to be looked after to avoid it cracking, splitting, and getting worse pre-maturely. When it needs to be cleaned or a stain gets on it such as sunscreen, it’s also important to remove it using the correct procedure to avoid damaging the leather. Here’s whether it’s possible to remove sunscreen stains from a leather sofa.

In general, you can remove sunscreen stains from a leather sofa. Use a damp microfiber cloth and dip it into a mild soap such as liquid hand soap. Rub it into the area back and forth gently. Then take a dry microfiber cloth and wipe it off. You typically need to repeat this process 4 to 5 times.

Each time you do this process a small amount of the sunscreen will get removed. Dish soap is what is called a surfactant which breaks down the oily consistency of sunscreens.

When you do this procedure the water and soap mix with the sunscreen. Then when you wipe it up with a microfiber cloth it removes this liquid mixture.

Overall, you can remove old sunscreen stains from leather. For all types of leather except leather car seats use a small amount of mild soap like liquid hand soap and a damp cloth. For leather car seats use leather car seat cleaners such as Mothers VLR or Meguiar’s Super Degreaser.

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WabiSabi Group is the owner of this article and was published on Aug 31, 2022 and last modified on .

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