Body lotions and creams can leave different kinds of stains on clothing whether you were using sunscreen, moisturizer or something else. They don't have to ruin your garments if you know the right cleaning method for the type of lotion. The two main things to remember are to tackle the stain as soon as possible and to never put the clothing in the dryer until you are completely certain that the stain is out. Heat can set stains into fabrics.
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Does Lotion Stain Clothes?
Hand cream, body cream and hand lotion, which are basically the same product, can stain your garments. Clothing with stains from any lotion should never be thrown right into the washing machine without pretreating the marks. This is because the oil in the lotion will be worked into the fabric and will be impossible to remove later. You can follow standard rules of thumb for removing grease and oil from clothing for removing lotion as well.
For instance, if the stain is still wet, gently blot away the excess with absorbent paper towels, taking care not to spread the lotion or push it into the fabric. For lighter stains, pour on an enzyme-based prewash stain remover or some liquid laundry detergent.
You can also use Dawn dish detergent or a similar product if you prefer. Use a clean toothbrush to tamp the cleaner into the clothes and then let it sit for about 10 minutes. Read the clothing label to see the hottest water temperature that can be used and put it in your washing machine.
Troubleshooting Difficult Stains
If the stain is still there when you take the clothes out of the washing machine, you can try something else. Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 tablespoon of Dawn or similar dish detergent into 2 cups of warm water and sponge this onto the stain.
Keep working this into the garment but gently. Over time, the stain should begin to dissolve. Then, you can try washing the clothing again. There are also cleaning fluids and dry cleaning solvents that may work but be sure to test those on inconspicuous areas before using.
Removing Calamine Lotion Stains
Calamine lotion presents a different challenge because it is pink rather than white or clear. That is because it contains 0.5 percent iron (ferric) oxide and zinc oxide. It's great for skin problems, like poison ivy, but not for your favorite shirt. To remove calamine lotion stains from washable fabrics, you can use aerosol pretreatment laundry stain removers. Cover the stain with the product and allow it one minute to do its work or drip on some heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent and launder immediately.
Should this not work, soak the clothes and wash with chlorine bleach (if safe for the fabric) or use oxygen bleach. As a last resort, get some dry cleaning solvent and put the clothing on top of paper towels. Apply the solvent to the back of the stain and follow the directions on the package.
It can be so frustrating when these kinds of stains damage your clothing, and it helps to use the most highly recommended stain pretreatment products. Consumer Reports chose its favorites, and some of these may be worth a try: OxiClean MaxiForce, OxiClean spray, Shout Triple-Acting Spray, Spray 'n Wash Laundry Stain Remover Spray and Spray 'n Wash Max Spray.
- Pacific Heights Cleaners: How to Remove Hand Lotion Stains from a Blouse
- American Cleaning Institute: Stain Removal Guide
- Healthline: Uses for Calamine Lotion and How to Apply
- University of Illinois Extension: Calamine Lotion
- Consumer Reports: Best Laundry Stain Removers From Consumer Reports' Tests