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How to Get Lotion Stains Out of Clothes Step-By-Step

Lotions help keep your skin in tip-top condition, but the downside is that they can leave stubborn stains on your clothes. These stains can be tricky since they’re oil-based.

Don’t worry, though. In this article, I’ll walk you through how to get lotion stains out of clothes in five simple steps. So, stick around! (But not like an annoying oil stain).

A woman applying lotion to her legs in the living room next to a plant.
© Ziga Plahutar from Getty Images via Canva.com

How to Get Lotion Stains Out of Clothes

The approach is similar whether you’re dealing with sunscreen stains, diaper cream stains, suntan lotion stains, or a body lotion stain.

You need a soft-bristled brush, enzyme-based stain remover, and laundry detergent to get oily stains out of clothes. 

Let’s dive right into the stain-removing steps.

Step 1: Act Quickly

Acting quickly is probably the most important first step that’ll help you easily remove the stain. Regardless of the stain type you’re dealing with, preventing it from setting is essential. In this case, “setting” is when the staining material forms strong bonds with the fabric.

In practical terms, you’ll need more than just elbow grease after the stain bonds with the fabric.

Additionally, leaving the lotion on the clothes for a while allows it to penetrate the surface and push deeper into the stained area.

At this point, there is nothing you can do to save your outfit. Trying to remove unsightly stains at this point will only discolor the fabric and wear it off. The only solution is to cut out the affected area and patch it, which doesn’t exactly fix the problem.

It’s a good idea to give your favorite clothes special attention as soon as you spot a fresh stain. While that doesn’t mean running to the dry cleaners, it does mean taking action and following the next steps.

Step 2: Scrape off the Lotion

To prevent throwing your garment away for a grease stain, start by scraping off the lotion. However, it’s not that simple. You can actually worsen the situation by following the wrong scraping technique and help the stain set instead of removing it.

Here’s how to properly remove a lotion blob from your clothes:

  1. Grab a dull knife like a butter knife, a spoon, or even your credit card—any tool with a sharp edge will do.
  2. Using a dull knife, gently lift away as much lotion as possible. Make sure not to rub the stain to prevent it from setting.
  3. Start at the blob’s top and slowly work your way to the bottom. If needed, you can use a spoon and a knife to scoop large portions off fabric and avoid spreading the lotion further.

Step 3: Blot the Stain

Blot the stain once you’ve removed the blob of lotion. For those wondering, blotting refers to using an absorbent material to dry the surface. This will help prevent the stain from pushing into the fabric.

Pick material like a white paper towel or a clean cloth to complete this job.

Here’s what you need to do next:

  1. Cover as much of the stain as possible with a paper towel.
  2. Press firmly on the paper towel and wait a few seconds before removing it.
  3. Repeat the same process each time with a clean part of the towel until no further liquid is absorbed.

Step 4: Pre-Treat the Stain

Now that you’ve removed the excess lotion, it’s time to use a stain remover. As you might know, lotion is an oil-based product. Washing the clothes in a washing machine with only water won’t cut it. You need a DIY or commercial stain remover to help break down greasy stains.

Opt for an enzyme-based stain remover. Such products contain lipases, enzymes that break down fats, like oil and grease, into fatty acids, alcohol, and glycerol. These smaller compounds are easier to clean than the whole molecule.

You only need to spray the stain remover on the affected area. 

If you don’t have an enzyme-based product, no worries. Simply make a paste using powdered laundry detergent and water. You can also mix a small amount of liquid detergent or liquid dish soap, any product with a surfactant, with water and rub it on the stain mark using an old toothbrush.

Step 5: Scrub and Rinse

Once you’ve applied the stain remover, mix gently working the cleaner into the fabric using a soft-bristled brush. Let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes or as instructed on the clothing label.

Scrub the stain again using the brush. Work from the outer edge toward the center to avoid spreading the lotion. Next, rinse the area with hot water since it dissolves the detergents better. That’s as long as the fabric isn’t sensitive to high heat.

After removing the stain, the last thing remaining is to wash the garment as you usually do. Check if the affected area is clean before drying the clothes in the dryer or on an outside washing line for that classic clean cotton scent.

Woman holding stained fabric looking very unhappy.
© Motortion from Getty Images via Canva.com

Tips for Cleaning Lotion Stains Out of Clothes

Here are some essential tips and tricks to keep in mind when cleaning your garment from stains:

  • Always check the garment’s fabric care label before using any stain removal product to ensure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. This is especially important for delicate fabrics.
  • Avoid exceeding the maximum recommended temperature, which risks damaging the fabric and shrinking the clothes.
  • Don’t wash the lotion with hot water before it’s completely gone. Doing so can set the stain.
  • Test any stain removal method on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric first to ensure it doesn’t cause discoloration.
  • If you’re dealing with white clothes, it may be sufficient to spot-treat with an oxygen-based bleach. Remember to test the fabric first before applying it to a large area.

Wrapping Up

Tough stains can be a nuisance, but the good news is that you can still save your garment. You just need to figure out how to remove lotion stains from clothes.

As discussed, promptly addressing the issue and following this step-by-step guide with simple tips is the best way. You can tackle these stubborn oil-based stains with easy stain removal methods and restore clothes to their pristine condition.

Remember to exercise caution and test the methods on a small area first. That way, you can bid farewell to the stain and enjoy your favorite outfit again!

Yield: Clean clothes

How to Remove Lotion Stains from Clothes

Woman applying lotion to bare legs with two hands.

The approach for getting lotion stains out of clothes is similar whether you're dealing with sunscreen stains, diaper cream stains, suntan lotion stains, or a body lotion stain. These stains can be tricky since they’re oil-based. Follow these five simple steps for success, and your fabrics can be as good as new.

Active Time 10 minutes
Rest Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Difficulty Easy

Materials

  • Enzyme-based stain remover

Tools

  • 1 butter knife or spoon
  • Paper towel or clean rag
  • Soft-bristled brush

Instructions

  1. Act quickly. As soon as you see the stain, stop what you're doing and prepare to treat the stain immediately.
  2. Scrape off the lotion with a butter knife or spoon.
  3. Blot the stain with a paper towel or rag.
  4. Pre-treat the stain with an enzyme-based stain remover.
  5. Scrub the stain remover in with a soft-bristled brush. Then, let the fabric sit for ten minutes before rinsing and washing as usual.

Notes

  • No enzyme-based stain remover? Make a paste using powdered laundry detergent and water. You can also mix a small amount of liquid detergent or liquid dish soap
  • Don’t wash the lotion with hot water before it’s completely gone. Doing so can set the stain.
  • Test any stain removal method on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric first to ensure it doesn’t cause discoloration.
  • If you're dealing with white clothes, it may be sufficient to spot-treat with an oxygen-based bleach. Remember to test the fabric first before applying it to a large area.

Catherine

Thursday 27th of July 2023

I've been using lavender lotion to help repel mosquitoes but recently noticed that the inside of the hem of my favorite shorts is dark from oil stains. Luckily I saw this blog post before I tried to get the stains out because I probably would've hit it with hot water first!

Jessica Haggard

Tuesday 1st of August 2023

What luck! Hope those shorts are saved :)

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