How to Get Sunscreen Off Leather Seats?

How to Get Sunscreen Off Leather Seats?

It’s summer, and the sun is shining. You want to go for a drive with your family, but after you put sunscreen on everyone, you notice that it has stained your leather seats! How can you get the sunscreen off of these expensive car seats? Will any type of cleaner or soap do? Or will you need something stronger like paint thinner or acetone?

In this article, cleaning experts will discuss how to remove sunscreen from leather seats in your vehicle.

Why Sunscreen Is Bad For Your Leather Seats:

1) Sunscreen stains are easily recognizable

Sunscreen stains often look like yellowish, brown, or green marks on the car’s leather interior [1]. Browning and yellowing are the most common sun damage to the leather. The color of sunscreen on your car’s interior may not have faded away yet, but it will take several days for these marks to disappear.

Sunscreen is one of the only chemicals that can cause these stains. Spots from juices or other food items usually fade within a day or two as long as you clean them off quickly after they happen, which obviously doesn’t apply here! This means that the effects of sunscreen can be much more permanent when compared with some juice spills (which could even make those particular spots look worse than before).

Sunscreen stains are easily recognizable

These marks also vary in colors depending on what type/brand of products were used – so if you see a mark on your car’s leather and you’re unsure of what it is, try to find the nearest bottle or tube of sunscreen.

2) Hard to remove

Leather is a natural material that must be maintained and requires regular cleaning to stay looking new for years. Sunscreen can cause permanent damage to the upholstery of your vehicle when not removed quickly. Leather has pores like any other fabric, but it also absorbs moisture more readily than most fabrics do – which means water does not evaporate very fast on its surface.

When you try removing sunscreen with plain water (or even soap), what happens? The old sunscreen residue soaks up an abnormally large amount of water in order to swell as much as possible before releasing it back onto the leather’s surface where evaporation will take place again. Wait! This process just created a temporary stain even worse than the one you started with – as it has soaked up more water and will release much faster than the old one!

Now there are two stains: one from last year’s sunscreen, and a new one that looks exactly like the previous bottle of sunscreen.

This is why most removers containing alcohol or acetone are so effective in removing sunscreens stains! They dissolve both leftover residues (stuck to leather) and stain at once.

Hard to remove

3) Causes leather to become sticky

Sunscreen, just like any other oily substance, will make the leather surface become sticky and feel softer. If this is not cleaned off in a timely manner it may cause the leather to crack and eventually deteriorate.

How To Prevent Long-Lasting Sunscreen Stains From Leather Seats?

The best way to avoid these long-lasting sunscreen stains is to take a few preventative measures before hitting the beach or pool:

  • If you’re going to be sitting in your car for an extended period of time, put a towel over the seats to protect them from any potential spills;
  • Avoid putting sunscreen on while driving – if you need to apply it, do so before getting in the car;
  • Make sure to remove any excess sunscreen with a damp cloth before sitting down (or better yet, use a product specifically designed to remove sunscreens);
  • If you see a stain starting to form, clean it off as soon as possible! The longer it sits, the harder it will be to remove;
Keep in mind that if you leave a used sunscreen bottle in your car for several days (or longer), sunscreen may leak out of it and stain the inside where there is no direct sunlight – especially if it is hot outside. This can be very hard to clean off. Sunscreen should never be left unused in any vehicle.

Even when properly stored, sunscreen contains ingredients that cannot decompose under any circumstance other than incinerating them at over 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to dispose of all old bottles according to manufacturer recommendations before they start leaking into your vehicle. Old sunscreens may have been exposed to high levels of UVA and UVB radiation, which makes their ingredients even more unstable.

How To Prevent Long-Lasting Sunscreen Stains From Leather Seats?

How To Clean a Fresh Sunscreen Stain On Leather?

1. Baking Soda and Water:

  • Apply baking soda to the stain (preferably in powder form) and pour a little water on it;
  • Rub vigorously until you can brush off all of the residues from your leather seat with ease;

This is a great method to use when you have a small, fresh stain. However, if the sunscreen has been on your seat for a while or has dried, this may not be as effective [2].

2. Cornstarch

It can also be used to remove sunscreen from leather seats:

  • Sprinkle cornstarch on the seat and let it sit for a few minutes;
  • Wipe the seat clean with a cloth;

Cornstarch is a natural, gentle cleanser that can be used to remove sunscreen from leather seats.

3. Mild Soap

You can also use mild soap to remove sunscreen from leather seats:

  • Apply some mild soap on the seat;
  • Wipe with a cloth until all of it is off. It’s important not to rub too hard, or you will scratch and damage your leather;

Mild Soap

In order to avoid damaging your car’s interior while washing it at home (or by yourself), always follow these rules:

  • Never wash your car if the temperature outside is above 85 degrees Fahrenheit unless you have covered every surface inside and out with tarps prior to beginning;
  • If you have to wash your car in direct sunlight, wet it down thoroughly before you start and use a hose with a nozzle that provides good water pressure;
  • Wash your car from the top down, using a gentle stream of water;
  • Use a soft cloth or sponge to clean the surface;
  • Rinse off all the suds and wipe the car dry with another cloth;

4. Vinegar

It is also a great natural option for removing sunscreen from leather seats:

  • Mix one part vinegar with three parts water, and apply the mixture to a cloth;
  • Wipe the seats down with the cloth, and then rinse them off with clean water;
Some people find that using a toothbrush can help remove sunscreen from hard-to-reach areas on leather seats. Dip the toothbrush in soapy water, and scrub the areas where sunscreen is present. Rinse off the seat with clean water when you’re done.

5. Lemon

Lemon is an excellent car interior cleaner since it can easily remove sunscreen from the vehicle’s interior. The fruit’s acidity aids in the breakdown of any tenacious stains with ease:

  • Cut the lemons into halves and get rid of the seeds;
  • Squeeze 3-4 lemon halves over the sunscreens stain on your vehicle seat;
  • Allow about 5 minutes for this to set before wiping it off with a sponge or soft cloth;
  • Remove the dried-on lemon juice from the car seat with a clean, damp cloth;

6. Rubbing Alcohol

It can also be used to remove sunscreen from leather seats:

  • Pour some alcohol onto a cloth;
  • Wipe the seats clean;
  • Be sure to test this method in an inconspicuous area first to make sure it doesn’t damage the leather;

Rubbing Alcohol

7. Store-Bought Cleaners

If you’re looking for a more commercial option, there are many store-bought cleaners that will do the trick. A quick Google search will pull up plenty of results, or you can head to your local auto parts store and ask for help. Be sure to read the directions carefully before using any cleaner, and test it in an inconspicuous spot on your seat first.

Some popular choices include:

  • Armor All Cleaning Wipes, which promise to “clean, protect and preserve” leather seats;
  • 303 Marine Aerospace Protectant, which is billed as a “premium UV protection product”;
  • Leatherique Prestine Clean, which is specifically designed to remove sunscreen, oils, and other contaminants from leather surfaces;

8. Dish Soap

Lather the dish soap onto the seat and scrub it with a brush or sponge. Rinse the seat with water and dry it off with a cloth.

9. Baby Wipes

Another way is to use baby wipes. Wet a baby wipe and rub it over the sunscreen on the seat. Repeat until all of the sunscreens are gone. Be sure to rinse the seat with water after using this method, as baby wipes can leave behind a residue.

Tips for Users:

Don’t let it dry

Whether it’s sunscreen on your automobile’s upholstery or a bottle that has spattered all over your leather travel bag, the most crucial thing to do when something is spilled is to clean it up as soon as possible. As soon as you notice a spill, blot it with a light, dry cloth. Keep in mind that wiping merely allows the sunscreen to migrate deeper into the cloth, making it more difficult to remove later.

Using the cloth, blot away as much of the extra sunscreen as possible. Then, sprinkle a thick layer of cornstarch or baking soda over the remaining sticky region and allow it to sit for at least 12 hours. Both products have excellent absorbing properties, and they may be able to remove the sunscreen from the leather before it has a chance to stain.

You can begin gently blotting away the yellow cornstarch or baking soda after around 12 hours. That means the white powder is absorbing the sunscreen and you may begin to softly wipe it away with a slightly damp and clean cloth [3].

Don’t let it dry

Removing zinc sunscreen

If you don’t have baking soda or cornstarch available, a dry towel may be sufficient for removing zinc sunscreen from your car’s seats:

  • Microfiber towels are particularly great at absorbing oils and water because of their tiny little threads. To remove the zinc oxide, cover the affected area with paper towels and then place wet newspapers on top;
  • Change out the newspaper as it gets soaked through until most of the white powder is gone;
  • At that point, switch to using lightly dampened microfiber cloths to clean away any remaining residue;
  • Remember not to rub too hard while cleaning; this could end up doing more harm than good by grinding in whatever particles were left behind during removal;
  • Pour a small amount of olive oil onto a clean cloth, and then apply it to the leather. Massage the oil into the leather for a few minutes, then wipe away any excess with another dry cloth. The oil will help condition the leather and protect it from future staining;


1. How do you get sunscreen off black leather seats?

If you are having a hard time removing sunscreen from black leather, the first thing that you should do is to blot away any excess moisture with a clean towel. This will help dry up most of the product and make cleanup easier.

Use simple dish soap if all else fails (only use non-gel). Soap works best when working off stains rather than trying to scrub them out after they have already been set in by dirt and oils.

However, even if there are stubborn spots left behind at least the leather will be cleaner than it was before.

If both of these methods fail, a small amount of water mixed with ammonia can help lift out stubborn stains and oils on black leather upholstery; though you should not use this method unless absolutely necessary because over time it could break down your seats’ dye or even worse damage their finish if left in for too long.

Before resorting to any chemical cleaning products, try using warm soap and water first (dish soap works great). If all else fails then proceed by blotting away excess moisture to dry the area as much as possible first – that way there will be fewer substances seeping into your seats when applying an oil stain remover like WD-40 or Goof Off.

2. How do you get sunscreen off the car interior?

The best way to get sunscreen off of the car interior is by using a gel-based product. It has been formulated specifically for this purpose and will work well on upholstery, vinyl, and even plastic surfaces. Remember not to use any type of cleaning chemicals that are designed for carpeting; as they could damage your vehicle’s seatbacks or dashboards instead (unless you want them stained forever).

3. How do you get sunscreen off vinyl seats?

Some people recommend using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, while others suggest using Goo Gone. If neither of these solutions works, you can try using mineral spirits or WD-40. Be sure to test any of these methods in an inconspicuous area first to make sure they won’t damage the surface of your seats.

4. How do you get lotion off leather?

Excess lotion should be scraped with a blunt knife. To make a frothy solution, combine washing-up liquid and warm water in a mixing container. Apply these suds to the discolored area with a sponge. Dry clean using a clean towel/cloth [4].

5. How do you get sunscreen off a Tesla seat?

Wipe the area with a vinyl cleaner, such as Armor-All or Lexol leather cleaner. If these cleaners do not work, you may have to resort to cleaning the affected areas by hand using water and soap. Dry thoroughly after washing; use a paper towel if no cloth is available.

6. How do you use a leather degreaser?

Spray the degreaser onto a cloth and wipe it onto the leather. Allow the degreaser to sit on the leather for a few minutes before wiping it off with a clean, damp cloth. Buff the leather dry with a soft cloth. Repeat as necessary.

If your seats are still stained after trying these methods, you may need to call in professional help. Contact a local car detailing service and ask for their advice on how to remove sunscreen or lotion from leather seats.

7. Why does sunscreen stain?

Sunscreen stains leather because it is made up of active ingredients that protect the skin from UV radiation. These agents do not rub off easily, and they can stain your car’s interior if you are not careful while applying them. It is important to take your time when applying sunscreen and to avoid getting it on any other surfaces than your skin.

8. How do you get makeup off leather seats?

Makeup can be removed from leather seats with mild soap and warm water. Use the back of your hand to remove makeup marks; do not rub hard or use sharp objects, as these may damage the leather finish.

Useful Video: Car Upholstery Cleaning Tips: How to remove sun tan lotion from car leather