How to Get Sunscreen Out of Leather Seats? (7 Easy Ways)

Sunscreen and leather seats are a bad combination, but sometimes accidents happen. Right? If you’ve gotten sunscreen on your leather seats, you’ll want to act quickly to help save your leather from it.

First, blot off as much excess sunscreen as possible with a clean rag. From there, choose your cleaning method (discussed below). You’ll then have to ensure you get all of it off, using multiple methods, if necessary. Finally, condition your leather thoroughly, and find ways to protect your leather car seats from it happening again!

Will sunscreen come out of leather seats?

Leather can come out of leather seats, but you’ll need to work on the stain as quickly as possible after noticing the spill. Leather quickly and easily can absorb a stain, making it much harder to remove!

Ways to remove sunscreen from leather seats

Thankfully, there are several ways for you to remove sunscreen from car seats, so it’s going to be wonderful when you’re looking for a way to have multiple choices available right at your fingertips. After all, time is of the essence, right? Your choices are:

  1. Leather cleanser
  2. Degreaser
  3. Vinegar
  4. Baking Soda
  5. Dish soap and water (according to Cleaning Institute)
  6. Rubbing alcohol
  7. Magic eraser

1. Leather cleanser

Your best choice, and first choice, in my opinion, should be a designated leather cleanser. This is the same product you usually use to clean your leather, of course, so you’ll have it close by and be very used to using it with the right amount of pressure, etc. 

Most leather cleaners will have dedicated cleaning agents in them (duh, you might be thinking) that make them especially effective at removing oils, greases, and more. After all, a leather cleanser will remove body oils and more from leather normally, right? So it’ll help break down and remove sunscreen oils.

2. Degreaser

This is a choice that is going to show you just what a dedicated grease-removing agent should do. This helps draw out sunscreen’s oils so they don’t sink into the leather pores.

If you’ve left the sunscreen on the leather for several hours, this is probably a better first choice than a leather cleanser. Just make sure you choose a degreaser that’s safe for leather since not all of them are!

3. Vinegar

Since vinegar is very acidic, it’s great at breaking down the strong sunscreen. Grab a cloth and some straight vinegar and gently rub some vinegar directly onto the sunscreen spots. Use a circular motion and light pressure only — just like you would with a leather cleanser. 

Since vinegar can stain leather, immediately blot it off after you’ve used it to scrub at the sunscreen. Be as thorough as you can to keep your leather safe! 

4. Baking Soda

Regardless of the spill, there’s very little that baking soda can’t help with. Learning how to get the sunscreen out of leather seats is no exception to this. You can also replace baking soda with cornstarch in a pinch. 

Spread it over the spills liberally and allow it to sit for 6 hours or up to 12 hours. It’ll help draw out the sunscreen’s moisture and absorb any smells from it. For best results, put a dab of warm water on a cloth as you wipe away the baking soda. If it turns yellow, it’s a sign that it’s removing the sunscreen well since it’s absorbed its color!

5. Dish soap and water

This isn’t going to be the absolute best choice for sunscreen, but it does help if it’s the fastest thing you can put together. Mix mild dish soap with warm water and apply it directly to the leather. Be thorough with this approach, but don’t get the leather too wet, either, as this can worsen the stress on the leather.

It will probably take multiple sessions with this approach since it will be milder than other kinds of methods. 

6. Rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol isn’t the best product for leather because it’s so strong, but it will be stronger than sunscreen. If you’re trying to remove sunscreen, it makes sense that you’ll want to use a removal product that’s stronger than the sunscreen itself!

Be sure to remove it from the leather after only a short time of it mingling with the sunscreen. It’s strong enough to damage your leather permanently.

Fun Fact: Did you know that hand sanitizer can damage leather? If not, click and read more about it!

7. Magic eraser

This porous sponge product will be a great choice for sunscreen as long as you are careful with it. It’s impressively strong and will help agitate the stain right out of the leather! Remember that a magic eraser isn’t always safe for every kind of leather and will effectively act as sandpaper. So, be gentle and use it sparingly!

When cleaning sunscreen off your leather, it’s nice to know that you have so many options to choose from so that you can save your couch or car seats from permanent damage after a fun summer’s day!

After thoroughly cleaning your leather seats, ensure that you condition your leather, too! This helps seal it back up and protect it from any further damage. Since this is typically part of your cleaning process, it shouldn’t be too far from your mind, anyway.

Best leather cleaner to remove sunscreen from leather seats

So, with all of those methods that I’ve talked about, is there going to be one that’s better than all of the others?

I will always go with a designated leather cleanser or a professional leather repair kit before I do with the other choices. The reason is that both of these will be designed for leather first and foremost. I can trust them with my leather in ways I can’t with other DIY products.

The leather repair kit will be my go-to for stains that have sunk into the leather since I’ll have to do some serious repair work!

Tip: You can also use a dry-cleaning solution, as WikiHow explains. Just make sure you check with your leather manufacturer first on its safety!

The other thing to remember with the various approaches is that it’s best to choose a cleaner that will match your specific needs and preferences. If all you have is vinegar, that’s your best choice, likewise for any of the other cleaning methods.

The most important thing about removing sunscreen stains from leather is to act quickly with whatever method works best and/or you have in your toolkit ready to help.

Preventing permanent sunscreen stains on leather seats

The only thing worse than getting sunscreen on leather seats is a sunscreen stain on leather seats. To help prevent that frustrating endgame, here are some tips to help you out:

  • Start working on the spill as soon as you can
  • Blot all of the sunscreen off until your cloth is clean and bare
  • Use gentle pressure with your chosen cleaning product, but be thorough
  • Clean in multiple sessions to be sure you’ve got it all out
  • Call in a pro if you need it

These tips will help you ensure you won’t be forever reminded of this particular beach or pool trip by the mark it leaves!

How to protect leather seats from sunscreen

In reality, accidents happen. Be it from a patch of sunscreen that didn’t sink into the skin or a spill from a leaky bottle, it’s no use getting worked up over an honest mistake. However, you can help minimize that by focusing on a few minor details.

Firstly, apply sunscreen as directed on the bottle. If you look closely, you’ll see that most recommend applying it 30 minutes before sun exposure, which means that it’s going to be tacky for that long, too! 

Secondly, you’ll want to consider getting car seat covers for your leather seats — at least during sunscreen season, that is. While leather is a gorgeous material to look at and feel, you don’t want to put it at risk knowingly from a greasy sunscreen spill, right? It might be worth it, even if you prefer the texture and color of the leather to the cover itself.

Tip: Check your owner’s manual for tips on cleaning your car seats. It might suggest alternative products!

Sunscreen spills can be stubborn, but not impossible, to remove. To save your leather from permanent staining. Blot excess sunscreen off and then decide what cleaning method to use.

Personally, I’d go with a leather cleanser before the others, but it also depends on what you have close by. From there, condition your leather after it dries completely. Just like that, your “oopsie” moment has disappeared from memory and sight!

Know someone prone to spills? Consider sharing this with them to help them learn how to undo any sunscreen-related accidents!

Andre from

Andre is a passionate leatherworker. He loves the smell and feel of leather, and he takes great care in selecting the right pieces of leather for his projects. Read more here.