Don’t let Sunscreen Stains Ruin your Hotel’s Reputation

Although sunscreen is a sun essential, it can take a toll on the appearance and lifespan of hotel linen, like towels and bedsheets.

SunScreen Blog SunScreen Blog
Sylvia van den Heuvel
Senior Application Specialist Fabric Care
Apr 25, 2023

When the weather is warm, it’s common for hotel guests to take advantage of being in the sun and nearby pools and beaches that surround these properties. Many of these sunbathers and outdoor enthusiasts apply sunscreen to protect themselves from UV rays. Although sunscreen is a sun essential, it can take a toll on the appearance and lifespan of hotel linen, like towels and bedsheets. It’s important for laundry managers to understand sunscreen stains in more detail and how to limit their impact on guest satisfaction and the bottom line.


Difficult stains

Removing stains from sunscreen cream and oil is no easy feat. The main ingredient causing most of the problems is called Avobenzone (also known as Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane). Avobenzone is a chemical UV blocker consisting of an oil-soluble ingredient which can absorb and decompose the full spectrum of UVA rays. Colored complexes are formed when Avobenzone comes into contact with small traces of heavy metals and minerals commonly found in water. This results in difficult-to-remove yellow and pink stains on linen.


Today, more people are aware of the negative effects of the sun than in the past, and are more conscious of regularly applying sunscreen. Increasingly, sunscreen products containing a higher sun protection factor (SPF) are being marketed and used. These products usually contain a higher amount of sun blockers like Avobenzone, and as such can create more staining problems. Finally, greasier creams and oils further complicate the removal of these stubborn stains.


Stain Removal Best Practices

There are several steps that hotels can take to limit the impact of sunscreen stains as well as that of other difficult-to-remove stains commonly found during the holiday season, including:


Use the right products and follow recommended wash processes. Hotels should ensure they have the right laundry products in stock and apply them properly following the correct wash procedures, while respecting the recommended pre and main wash temperatures, dosing of detergent, bleaches and boosters, pH control and other relevant wash parameters.


Specifically for guest cloths such as shirts, blouses and dresses, apply pre-spotters for tricky stains. To ensure linen emerges clean from the first wash, employees may have to apply dedicated pre-spotters for the removal of outdoor soils like sunscreen and grass stains or cosmetic stains to prevent these marks from setting on the linen and becoming more difficult to remove.


Use special reclaim products and procedures if necessary. These products and steps should be used in cases where some stains were not fully removed from heavily soiled linen. Hotels should understand that these special recovery wash processes tend to come with a much higher cost. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to follow the correct procedures the first time to save unnecessary future remedies.


Educate guests about the environmental impact of linen. Hotels should communicate their sustainability goals related to laundry and explain how guests can support their efforts. For example, to support resource savings like water, energy and chemicals, the property may ask guests to use dedicated makeup removal products to prevent stains on towels or sheets. The hotel can also request that guests avoid using towels for polishing shoes, as this is a common occurrence and one that complicates stain removal.


A stain-free summer

No guest wants to be greeted with towels or bedsheets that are covered in lingering stains like those that originate from sunscreen products and cosmetics. Stains not only negatively impact guest satisfaction, they can drive up the costs associated with a hotel’s laundry program, reduce productivity and slow down the progress of a property’s environmental goals. With a greater knowledge around stubborn stains such as those from sunscreen products and by implementing a set of best practices, hotels can ensure they present guests with fresh, white linens at every occasion.


For more information about how Diversey can support your hotel’s laundry program, visit our Fabric Care page.