Prevent Benzoyl Peroxide Bleach Stains

8 Tips For Protecting Fabrics When Treating Acne

Benzoyl peroxide stains on fabrics are common because of the treatment's bleaching effect. You may notice orange splotches on your clothes, towels, or bedding after using this acne treatment. These stains cannot be washed out.

Benzoyl peroxide is a popular and effective acne treatment for many. If it's working for you, you may be hesitant to try something else in hopes of sidestepping fabric stains. Or, you might conclude that it's worth sacrificing some towels in the name of clear skin.

Either way, hold on. While you may not be able to eliminate the risk of benzoyl peroxide bleach stains entirely, these eight tips can help you reduce it.

Young woman applying face cream.
Nikola Ilic / Getty Images

Let It Dry Thoroughly

Wash your hands well with soap and water after you apply benzoyl peroxide. (If you used a benzoyl peroxide cleanser, rinse your face and hands very well before toweling off.)

Make sure the medication is good and dry before you get dressed. This applies even if you rubbed the treatment in well.

This can help mitigate the risk of bleach stains on fabrics, so it's definitely worthwhile. But it may not always be enough.

Use White Linens

Since it's tough to completely stop benzoyl peroxide from coming into contact with your towels and sheets—even with careful handling—go with white linens. Benzoyl peroxide cannot bleach them.

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

It only takes a small amount of skin oil or perspiration to transfer the benzoyl peroxide from your skin to your bedding.

Buy Benzoyl Peroxide-Resistant Sheets and Towels

You can also buy linens that are specially made to resist benzoyl peroxide bleaching. If they offer this benefit, it will be marked on the tag.

This is a great option if you're not a fan of white linens or just want to add a pop of color to your bathroom or bedroom.

But beware: While they resist bleaching from benzoyl peroxide, they are not completely stain-proof. In other words, tips on washing your hands and letting the treatment dry still very much apply.

Only Apply Benzoyl Peroxide at Night

If it's an option, try applying benzoyl peroxide only at night and wear pajamas that you don't mind staining.

Benzoyl peroxide can still easily transfer to clothing even if it's dry. All it takes is a brush of a sleeve or a rub of a collar and you'll get a stain.

Shower first thing in the morning to clean off any benzoyl peroxide residue, which will help prevent it from staining your clothes when you get dressed.

Don't Sweat

Even a tiny bit of moisture helps benzoyl peroxide stain.

If you live in a humid or hot climate, you can't really sweat-proof yourself. You can, however, take steps to keep sweat from getting your clothes—for example, don't use your sleeve to wipe the sweat off your face.

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

Make sure to wash the benzoyl peroxide off before heading off for your workout, or wear workout gear that you wouldn't mind getting stained.

Wear a White Undershirt

If you're using benzoyl peroxide on your back or chest, try wearing a white undershirt to keep it from transferring to your clothes.

Keep Tainted Laundry Separate

If you start seeing odd stains on fabrics that haven't been around your acne treatment, you might chalk it up to bleach mishaps in the laundry room.

However, it might be that your pajamas, washcloths, or towels are transferring benzoyl peroxide to other items in your hamper.

Put anything that comes in contact with benzoyl peroxide in a separate basket and don't wash these items in the same load as your other fabrics.

Remember, benzoyl peroxide is sneaky. It can still be on fabric even if you can't see it.

Try Another Acne Treatment

If you're so frustrated with orange spots and bleached-out stains that you can't put up with using it, talk to your dermatologist. Ask if there are benzoyl peroxide-free acne medications that you could try.

Keep in mind that there are no other over-the-counter acne treatments that are as effective as benzoyl peroxide. If you're considering stopping OTC benzoyl peroxide, the next best option is likely to be prescription acne medication.

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


Benzoyl peroxide can be an effective acne treatment, but it can stain your clothes and linens.

You can avoid stains by being mindful of when you apply the treatment, using fabrics that resist stains or that you don’t care about getting stained, and keeping soiled laundry away from your other clothes.

If the staining is really a problem, talk to your provider about using another acne treatment. 

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.