How To Remove Sunscreen Stains From Car Paint

How To Remove Sunscreen Stains From Car Paint

A friend of mine contacted me during the week and asked me what the best way to remove “Fingerprint marks” from a car’s paint. He said he tried to wash the car but the marks remain, so he was unsure of what to do next.

This was an immediate red flag for me as usual, you can remove any fingerprint marks from car paint with a couple of sprays of a good Quick Detailer, and some buffing with a Microfiber Cloth.

Uh oh!

After a quick chat with him, it was clear that the marks he was seeing on his paint were actually stains from Sunscreen that had etched into the paintwork. My friend has some young kids, so I guess they had gotten their sunscreen covered hands all over the paintwork at some point.

If you have ever had this problem, you will know that it is a giant pain in the ass.

Sunscreen can very damaging to paintwork, and the longer it is left to dwell on the paint, the harder it is to remove ( A little like Bird Droppings )

How To Remove Sunscreen From Car Paint

Let’s take a look at why this is..

How Does Sunscreen Stain Car Paint

The main reason for sunscreen staining a car’s paintwork is two of the main ingredients used in most sunscreen formulas – polyethene glycol and titanium dioxide. These are designed to reflect light and protect us from UV, but when accidentally put on a car’s paint, it will leave that white residue and if it’s left too long, it can damage the paint. Usually, the longer that this residue is left on the car, the worse the damage that will be caused!

Sunscreen car paint

With most sunscreens that are being sold today, they are typically water-resistant, so normal washing techniques will not remove them fully, and if they are left on for a long time (like many months), it can be virtually impossible to remove them by hand.

The trick to removing sunscreen from the paint of your car is to act quickly.

Let us take a look at the two solutions.

How To Remove Sunscreen From Car Paint ( If recent )

If you are lucky enough to spot the sunscreen marks quite early ( Within 30 mins for example ), it should not be too difficult to remove the sunscreen from the paint. As mentioned above, the quicker you can act the better.

If your car is pretty dirty or has any contaminants, I would recommend performing a full wash first where possible.

If your car is relatively clean, to begin with, I would recommend using a Quick Detailer Product, in conjunction with a Microfiber cloth to remove the sunscreen residue from paint

One solid option that I recommend to people for jobs like this is Gtechniq’s Quick Detailer

How To Remove Sunscreen From Car Paint


You can simply spray this on the affected areas of the paintwork and wipe off gently with a microfiber cloth or towel.

It may take several passes with the spray and wipe to fully remove any residue on the paintwork.

How To Remove Sunscreen From Car Paint (Not So Recent )

If you are unlucky enough to have sunscreen marks on your paint that has had time to dwell and dry on the car, I’m afraid to say you might have a bigger task on your hands.

The oils in the sunscreen have begun to bond and penetrate the paint.

Again – the extent of the problem will depend on how long it has sat on the paint.

The first thing to try is hand polishing the affected areas with a lightly abrasive polish using an applicator pad and microfiber cloths.

The two polishes I would recommend that can be applied by hand are

SRP by Autoglym

How To Remove Sunscreen From Car Paint

Meguiars Ultimate Compound


How To Remove Sunscreen From Car Paint

If neither of the above polishes is successful in removing the sunscreen marks by hand, the next option is to treat the affected area with a stronger cutting compound using a dual action polisher.

If you are new to machine polishing and need some help, you can refer to my full guide Beginners Car Polishing Guide Below

Beginners Car Polishing Guide

This should completely remove the sunscreen stains from the paint.

How To Remove Sunscreen From Your Cars Glass

Removing Sunscreen from glass is a little easier than removing it from the paintwork. Something like Autoglym Glass Polish, which can be applied by hand should do the trick when removing sunscreen residue from the windscreen ( or any other windows )

How To Remove Sunscreen From Car Paint

Hopefully, the above guide should help you remove stubborn sunscreen stains from both your cars paintwork and glass.

If you have any of your own tips for this, please let me know in the comments as I would like to hear.

Until Next time,

Happy Detailing!

Go Home

About the Author – Darren O Hara

Darren is the founder of the DriveDetailed blog and is a keen detailing enthusiast living in the rainy south of Ireland. When he is not cleaning his car he is always researching ways he can improve his techniques and enjoys testing out out new products.

Darren currently drives an Audi TTRS and is a big fan of performance cars.

You can follow Darren on Instagram @darrenoharacork

5 thoughts on “How To Remove Sunscreen Stains From Car Paint

  1. Thank you for writing this we’ve had sunscreen stained on our SUV since last summer and couldn’t take it off. I found this and bought the meguires compound And it worked so thankful!

  2. A female friend ruined the paint on my Mk2 TT last summer. We went for a road trip for the weekend. I noticed some smears on my car where she had touched the door… but thought I’d wash it off when I got back home. I didn’t see how that would be bad for the paint. The next day it rained, so I thought the rain washed it all off anyway. So back home on Monday, the car was left in the sun for the whole day (work from home)… and it rained again during the week… and then some sun.

    By the next weekend when I got around to washing the car, I started noticing that even after the sunscreen itself had been removed, the blue metallic paint had a bit of a milky appearance where the sunscreen was. It had run down the door a bit with the rain… so I had those weird runny stains on the paint. I didn’t panic. I got my compound product, started buffing and was expecting it to completely buff off. It didn’t… 😮 To this day, the paint is still damaged and unless I get that repainted, it’s never gonna go away.

    So folks, NEVER let anyone touch your car with hands full of sunscreen. And if even it happens, GET IT OFF QUICK! Otherwise, you’re screwed!

Leave a Reply