Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sunblock Staining Clothes: Product/Active Ingredient Alert!

I felt it important to share what I have just experienced with a product I've been using for years which seems to have suddenly changed some of it properties thus staining 3 of my favorite cycling jerseys. Jerseys aren't cheap so I'm really not too happy right now. I hope I can save someone else some trouble and money with this information.

For years I have been using Coppertone Sport and have been very pleased with it's performance. I've recently restocked my supply and noticed that now my white jerseys have suddenly turned yellow. So you know, I put sunscreen underneath my jersey especially across the back of my shoulders. I learned from a dermatologist some years ago that the rays that cause skin cancer are not the same rays that cause your skin to darken. The cancer causing rays go through your clothing so it is wise to put the sunscreen even on in areas which are covered.

I noticed that Coppertone now has "replenishing antioxidants!". I contacted Coppertone and they tell me that if I have not machine dried my jerseys there may still be hope. Now I'm not totally sure if it's the new antioxidants that they have added or if they have changed something else, but the reason they give for the staining is an active ingredient called Avobenzone of which Coppertone Sport has 3%. Since I only hang dry my jerseys they tell me that I can try to use OxyClean or Shout stain removers.

So if you own any jerseys or other clothing that is white, beware of the chemical Avobenzone in ANY sunblock you may be using. If you hang dry your jerseys and they are already stained, you may still have hope to return them to a pristine white. I am going to go try to fix mine now. Wish me luck!

Oh, and sorry Coppertone brand, YOU'RE OUTTA HERE!

Sunblock followup:
Wanted to share some additional information I've learned since my post. I took a look at several brands and pretty much all of them have Avobenzone but in different concentrations. Like I said, Coppertone Sport has 3% (forSPF 50) and does state that it may stain some fabrics. I found that Banana Boat Sport has only 1.5% (forSPF 50) but has no warnings of possibly staining clothing. I still think that something else was added to Coppertone Sport, possibly the antioxidants which caused the staining since the brand had not previously stained my jerseys. I myself will steer clear of anything with antioxidants in it just in case. Sounds like a marketing gimmick anyway. :)

Jim from Whisper Cycles was kind enough to share with me what they used to remove sunblock staining from their new kits. He said that after trying many things they found that their shop hand cleaner Stout did the best job. Stout is a gritty, pumice filled concoction that you rub in by hand. My initial search online to find some only turned up soap made of beer which seems a bit sacrilegious. Someone needs to be held accountable for doing this with beer! Jim did get back with me and provided this link for Stout. http://www.abccompounding.com/abc/catcode_1110_137100.php

At the end of the day there are just too many fabric types/coatings and sunblock chemicals to really know for sure what will work well together or not. As much of a pain as it is, the only way to know for sure is by doing a test patch of the sunblock you intend to use on your jersey in an inconspicuous spot and see what happens. If it stains, DON'T put it in the washer and definitely DON'T put it in the dryer. Use Stout (or OxyClean or maybe even Dawn) to get stain out by hand, then go find another sunblock.



  1. Great to know. We ride up here mostly single track in Lake Arrowhead threw the trees. But have been doing some rides in OC but have never put sunscreen on. Let us know what you find in a new sunscreen. Where doing the 24hr of Moab in October and appreciate your input.

    Dewey Aguilera
    Big Ring MTB Crew

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  3. Sadly, Coppertone has NOT re-formulated their product as of February 2013. I had the same thing happen to me recently. I used Coppertone Sport Spray SPF30 while playing golf on vacation. The spray stained my white cotton and high performance golf shirts. I will try to find Stout and cross my fingers that it takes the stains out. Thank you!

  4. Just happened to me. Three of my favorite white shirts are now stained an ugly orange. Just came out of the wash after trying to use a stain remover but it didn't work. I'm going out to buy some OXY Clean right now before they dry and hoping that it works. I'd like to make an official complaint to Coppertone SPORT. I hope they read this.

  5. I have used this product for years with no problem until recently. Now when I perspire heavily I get yellow orange streaks running down my legs and it gets all over my cycling socks. However, some did not wash out of a white jersey-afavorite. Hope another washing will do the trick. But I am through with this product. Whatever change they've made is no improvement.

  6. Try Key West Aloe SPF 15 does not stain and is the only thing we use with our hard water. You will have to order it.

  7. Hi, I use Neutrogena on my face, and Coppertone spray on my arms and legs.. I am an avid golfer. Shortly after purchasing the spray, I went golfing and sprayed the coppertone by my car, and on my legs.. later when I washed my care, the side I sprayed my legs and arms, wouldn`t come off my back paint on my car.. the windows as well. My new back golf shoes had these dots white on them where ever the back was.. I scrubbed my care and my shoes with soap and water and I still can`t remove it.. I tossed the two cans I bought. I thought, if I can`t get it off my shoes and car, but is it doing to my body.. cheers Rod