Removing sunscreen marks from paint

"I've just washed my car but still have sunscreen marks from the kids!  They don't seem to come off!"

This is one of the most commonly asked questions we get, especially over the summertime. Whether it be from the cars' owners doing it or usually the kids, it's a problem that is quite simple to remedy, as long as you get to it early and use the right products.

Made for skin, not paint

Sunscreen is developed to go on and protect your skin, with all sorts of interesting additives to help shield you from the suns powerful UV rays. These ingredients however are not real paint or car friendly, which is annoying, as we will find them on all parts of the car after applying it in the car (especially if you have kids!). With most sunscreens being water resistant, normal washing will not remove them, and if they are left on for a long time (like many months), it can be virtually impossible to remove them by hand.

The reason for this is two of the main ingredients used in the formulas; namely polyethylene glycol and titanium dioxide. These work a treat at reflecting light and protecting us from UV, but when put on paint, it will leave that white residue and if it's left on the paint too long, it can damage the paint, requiring expensive machine buffing to remedy it.

The biggest tip we can give you is that the quicker you clean it off, the easier it will be to remove.

Removing recent marks

If the marks have been made in the last hour, you can usually be able to remove them quick and easy with our Clean Detail spray. First clean the dust away by either washing the area, or with use lubricating detailing spray like Fully Slick or Boss Gloss with a plush Drop Bear Cloth.

Then get a clean Big Softie microfibre cloth and a bottle of our Clean Detail spray, spray the product directly onto the marks, then gently wipe them off with the microfibre cloth. Nice and easy.

If the marks are still there, which is most likely as the sunsceen will take a few hours to dry and go white, move onto the next step with our easy to use deep cleanser. 

Not so recent marks

If the Clean Detail has not worked, the oils in the sunscreen have begun to bond and penetrate the paint, so you need the next step in our paint cleaning arsenal, the Paint Cleanse & Restore.  

This product has a unique cleaning oil in it, which works a real treat on quickly removing sunscreen, without getting any swirl marks you would have received from the older school polishes.

It's important the area you want to clean is out of direct sunlight and cool to touch for the product to work its very best. We recommend to use it in the cooler hours of the morning or afternoon.

Step 1

Make sure the area you're about to work on is clean, either from a complete wash or clean it with a lubricating detail spray like Fully Slick or Boss Gloss. You do this as you don't want to be rubbing any errant dirt or grime into the paint, that can create micro scratches. 

Apply a 20 cent sized dollop of Paint Cleanse & Restore to a Circle Work microfibre applicator pad. Spread the cleanser right around the pads face with your fingers, to prime it so you have no dry areas. 

Step 2

Apply the pad to the paint surface, in a gentle side to side motion. 

You'll notice the marks slowly disappear from the paint as the oils work at gently dissolving the sunscreen.  


Step 3

Inspect the paint and after you're happy that most the marks look to be gone, buff away the Paint Clease & Restore residue with a clean and dry Big Softie microfibre cloth, that is turned to the low pile side. Turn it to the high pile side for the final perfect finish. 

Now, this should be enough to remove the marks. For more stubborn sunscreen stains you may need a second application. 

Step 4

The paint should be totally clean of the marks now! 

It would be a good idea to now apply some Carnauba Body Wax, Lazy Wax or Fully Slick spray sealant, to aid in the protection of the now clean surface and make it easier to remove any sunscreen should it happen again in the future.

If the sunscreen marks are still there, due to it being on the paint for an extended period of time (we are talking many months to years), you will need to get the paint professionally machine buffed to get rid of the marks.

Interior marks

If you get sunscreen on any interior plastics, vinyl or leather, we have these articles to help you out.


Any questions?

You can get these car care products at any of our great retailers nationwide. Find your closest in the link at the bottom of this article.

If you have any questions or feedback about this article please contact us by email - or call our office on 1800 351 308.

Love your car,

Dan Bowden

Big Softie Big Softie

Big Softie

This plush cloth cuts time in removing waxes, cleansers, glass cleaners and detail sprays.


Paint Cleanse & Restore Paint Cleanse & Restore

Paint Cleanse & Restore

A modern replacement for abrasive polishes, that rejuvenates paint without creating swirls.


Paint Rejuvenation Pack Paint Rejuvenation Pack

Paint Rejuvenation Pack

Bring back the shine to your paint with this cool combo of products.


Plush Daddy Plush Daddy

Plush Daddy

Dual sided, versatile, super soft microfibre cloth for interior cleaning. You will love the Daddy.


The Square Bear The Square Bear

The Square Bear

For perfect application of all interior products. Low absorption material so you don't lose all your product.


Leather Care Pack Leather Care Pack

Leather Care Pack

This pack includes everything you need to keep your leather like new.


Carnauba Body Wax Carnauba Body Wax

Carnauba Body Wax

Custom blended Carnauba wax for easy use and a brilliant showroom shine.