Prevent Benzoyl Peroxide From Staining Your Clothes

8 Tips to Prevent Bleaching Your Clothes, Towels, and Sheets

Benzoyl peroxide is a really good acne treatment. It also leaves funky orange stains on nearly everything it touches.

There's no way to stop benzoyl peroxide from bleaching. If it gets on your fabrics, it's going to stain. The best thing you can do is prevent the medication from coming in contact with your fabrics in the first place.

This seems easier said than done, but while you may still succumb to a stained towel here and there, these tips will go a long way in helping you prevent benzoyl peroxide bleach marks.

Young woman applying face cream.
Nikola Ilic / Getty Images

Let It Dry Thoroughly

Before you dress, make sure that benzoyl peroxide medication is good and dry. Wash your hands well with soap and water after each application. If you're using a benzoyl peroxide cleanser, rinse your face extremely well before toweling off.

Even if you rub benzoyl peroxide in well, let it dry thoroughly, and wash your hands after application, it may still find a way to bleach your towels, sheets, and clothing. So, while this is a good place to start, it is not always enough to prevent stains.


Use White Linens

White towels and sheets look crisp and clean. And they can't be bleached out by benzoyl peroxide. Since it's tough to completely stop benzoyl peroxide from coming in contact with your towels and sheets, even with careful treatment, white is the linen color of choice here.

Benzoyl peroxide cleansers linger on the skin, even after being washed off. This is a plus for treating breakouts but can be a headache when you're using colored towels.

Colored towels can be stained after you've used any type of benzoyl peroxide cleanser or bar soap, even after you've rinsed well. 

If you're wearing benzoyl peroxide lotions and creams to bed, your pillowcases and sheets can be stained even if the lotion is dry. It just takes the smallest amount of skin oil or perspiration to transfer the BPO from your skin to your bed linens.

No worries if you've got white towels or sheets, though. These can't be bleached out.


Buy Resistant Sheets and Towels

There are actually linens that are designed to resist benzoyl peroxide bleaching. Benzoyl peroxide-resistant linens can be found at retailers like Target, Kmart, and LL Bean, and many more online.

If you're bored with white sheets and towels and prefer a bit of color for your bedroom and bath, you may want to invest in some of these products.

You should still do your best to keep benzoyl peroxide from coming in direct contact with these fabrics. They aren't completely stain proof, so don't wipe your BPO-covered hands on the towels or hop into bed before your medication is completely dry. Otherwise, you may still find bleached-out spots on your linens.


Apply It Only at Night

Try applying benzoyl peroxide only at night (if that's an option for you). Wear pajamas you don't mind staining.

Even when benzoyl peroxide is completely dry, it can still easily transfers to clothing. All it takes is a brush of a sleeve or a rub of a collar and you've got a stain.

Shower in the morning before dressing to cleanse away any benzoyl peroxide residue to prevent it from coming in contact, and staining, your nice clothes.


Don't Sweat

Any tiny bit of moisture sets benzoyl peroxide to staining. Obviously, if you live in a humid or hot climate, you can't really sweat-proof yourself. But do take care not to get that sweat on your clothes (i.e. don't use your sleeve to wipe a sweaty brow).

If you apply benzoyl peroxide at night and head out for your workout first thing in the morning, that medication is still there on your skin waiting to stain your workout clothes and towel.

Try washing the benzoyl peroxide off before working out or wear workout gear you don't mind staining.


Wear a White Undershirt

Using benzoyl peroxide on your back or chest? Wear a white undershirt to keep it from transferring to your clothes.


Keep Tainted Laundry Separate

When certain articles of clothing start showing up with odd stains, you might think you're somehow having bleach mishaps in the laundry room. It just may be that your pajamas, washcloths, or towels are transferring benzoyl peroxide to other items in the laundry.

Put anything that comes in contact with benzoyl peroxide in a separate hamper, and don't wash in the same load as your good stuff.

Remember, benzoyl peroxide is sneaky. Even if you don't see it on the fabric, it may still be there.


Try Another Acne Treatment

This is a last resort, especially if benzoyl peroxide is working well for you. But if you're so frustrated with orange spots and bleached-out stains that you're ready to throw out your acne treatments, talk to your dermatologist. Ask if there are benzoyl peroxide-free acne medications that would work for you instead.

OTC benzoyl peroxide users beware—no other over-the-counter acne treatment is as effective. If you're considering dumping your OTC benzoyl peroxide, the next best option is a prescription acne medication.

Topical retinoids and/or topical antibiotics may be another option for you. These can help keep breakouts under control and they don't have the bleaching capabilities of benzoyl peroxide.

A Word From ​Verywell

Dealing with benzoyl peroxide stains can be annoying. But long term, the benefits of having clear skin will probably outweigh the drawbacks of an occasional stained item.

The best bet is to wash your hands thoroughly and carefully after applying and be picky about what you wear when you have benzoyl peroxide on your skin.

2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Zaenglein AL, Pathy AL, Schlosser BJ, et al. Guidelines of care for the management of acne vulgaris. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2016;74(5):945-73. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2015.12.037

  2. Consumer Reports. Towels that resist bleaching from benzoyl peroxide.

By Angela Palmer
Angela Palmer is a licensed esthetician specializing in acne treatment.