Preventing Bleach Stains on Clothing

Finding mysterious bleach spots on your laundry, even when no bleach was used is frustrating. This is a guide about preventing bleach stains on clothing.

Bleach Stains On Red T-Shirt
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Question: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

By Emma 1

I keep getting bleach stains on all of my clothes, I no longer use bleach and have washed the washing machine. Please Help?

Emma from Tas, Australia

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By Carol 1 Flag

April 25, 2011

The same thing has been happening to me, I've tried everything that all of the postings suggest. Spoke directly to Whrlpool and they had no idea what could be causing it either. I'm glad I'm not the only one who is going crazy over this. I also have many friends who have this problem. We don't use acne products. My husband uses topical medication but the stains are usually on MY towels that he doesn't use! The only other thing we have thought is bad dye lots in some clothes but even that doesn't make sense. Somebody help!

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Question: Why Am I Getting Bleach Spots On Unbleached Loads?

By Larry Kreitman 3 2

Can someone help a dumb bachelor? I only use bleach when doing whites in a separate load. I notice periodically a small white bleach stain on an item in later loads of shirts and pants. This obviously ruins the item, and is driving me crazy. This has been happening for years, which leads me to believe I'm doing something wrong. And I don't think it's just me, because I'm starting to notice it on others clothes as well. Can someone help. Thanks.

Larry from Clearwater, FL

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By guest (Guest Post) Flag

January 2, 2009

I get this bleaching too, mostly around the necks of shirts, and I use a sunscreen-lotion on my face. But I also get it elsewhere (like the legs of underwear), and I rarely use _anything_ but the mildest, most natural, non-allergenic lotions or plain oils, like Jojoba and almond. My BF uses the same face lotion sometimes, but his occasional bleaching spreads evenly down his shoulders. I use maybe a liter of bleach in a couple years.

Cyinda - I used to live in Olympia! I used a few drops of Tea Tree Oil in every load to fight the allergens like dust mites and mold, and the dryer is hot enough to kill anything else! (And hydrogen peroxide works very well on stains on whites - haven't tried it with colors.) I _hate_ to endorse brands, but that Tide pen works wonders on almost all stains (even took the yellow off small a blood stain after that H2O2).

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Question: Bleach Stains from my Washer are Driving Me Nuts!

i need help. Every once in a while (more lately) when I do a colored load of wash clothes will come out with what looks to be a bleach stain on them. I have already lost a few shirts and some nice pants and I cant figure out whats doing it. I very rarely use bleach and I know I didnt spill it. I seperate the clothes and follow the lables. I am sick of losing nice clothes. It will only happen to one or two things a load and not every time I do wash. Anyone have any ideas what it could be?? Thanks for the help,

Missy in PA

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By Fay Poulish 9 Flag

March 11, 2010

Thanks everyone for the good hints. I found that I was getting white stains or residue on clothes from the detergent even when I use liquid detergent and diluted it in a jug of water and poured it on the clothes before starting the washer. Using only cold water might be the culprit, although I diluted detergent in hot or warm water first. So annoying to find when hanging clothes on the line and I had to rewash them.

Sometimes I didn't notice the marks until they were dry as I mostly hang them inside out (to avoid fading) and discovered this when putting them away. A little rubbing removed some, but not all. NOW, thank goodness, I have discovered that if I put the undiluted detergent in a large spare plastic cap from a bottle of detergent or softener and place it on top of the clothes close to where the water fills from and turn on the washer, it dissolves the liquid and I rarely get residue stains on clothes. Original we had a plastic ball with an opening until it broke up, and now we just use any large cap that has no sharp edges to harm clothes when agitating.

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Question: Preventing Bleach Stains on Clothing

By kevin 1

I live in a dorm at school, none of the kids are supposed to use bleach, but of course they do. I've been the lucky person to put clothes in after they are done and have had 3 very nice shirts with bleach stains. How can i prevent this? I don't have the time/money to run just a load before I put my clothes in. Any suggestions?

Kevin from Philly, PA

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By guest (Guest Post) Flag

May 7, 2008

ok, I have had 3 of my favorite black shirts get bleach spots on them. What should I do?

p.s. I'm 15, so gimmie a solution that will make sense to a teen :)

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Question: Mysterious White Streak and Dots on T-shirt

By Beth S. 8

I have a new light blue sleeveless t-shirt. I pulled it out of the wash and now has white dots and white streak on it. It seems nothing is taking it out. What is this? How did it happen? Can I do anything to fix it? Thank you.

By flower51

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By Kristy B. 1 Flag

November 8, 2014

Just Googled and two answers on other threads are the chlorine from the water is doing it so use hot water not cold on darks and dilute detergent before washing Don't pour right onto clothes. I'm going to try those...grrr

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Question: Random Bleach Stains on Laundry

My daughter has a problem with her laundry. She randomly gets bleach stains on her wash. She has stopped using any bleach and fabric softener and it still happens. Does anyone have any ideas what might cause it. It doesn't seem that the machine would hold bleach for months. Very strange.

Thanks for your help,
Sally from South Berwick, ME

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By Beth 1 Flag

March 6, 2011

I was having the same probelm. I would get bleached marks around the collars and sometimes sleeves of my shirts, and around the edge of my towels. I finally narrowed it down to the Clearasil that I was using.

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Archive: Preventing and Repairing Bleach Stains on Clothing

I recently washed a relatively brand new pair of 100% cotton navy blue dress pants, but the left butt section of the pants got lightly bleached in various spots--probably the residues from previous load of washing whites with bleach. Is there any way to dye it uniformly or make it look brand new again?

If it can be dyed, where would one purchase a quality, inexpensive kit so it can be done correctly and the spotty parts will not look a shade lighter than the rest of the pants? Also, is there a way to prevent this from happening again in the future--this is not the first time it happened to my clothes. Thanks.

BluesClue from D.C.

RE: Preventing and Repairing Bleach Stains on Clothing 02/28/2006
1. Try to find a Sharpy marker pen in the same color, and fill in the spots. If you get the ones meant for marking laundry, you will only have to do this occasionally. Try on an inconspicuous place first. I bought mine at K-Mart.

2. To prevent a reoccurrence, after running a bleach load, run a rinse cycle of only water to remove the residue before your next load. Run it on the lowest cold water setting.

By Jean (Guest Post)
RE: Preventing and Repairing Bleach Stains on Clothing 02/28/2006
I think you should start using a non-chlorine bleach, then you won't have the problem.
By WIsgal
RE: Preventing and Repairing Bleach Stains on Clothing 03/01/2006
Sorry, nothing will ever be the same once it is bleach stained! I love the cleansing power of bleach, but have ruined so many things, sometimes I swear to never use it again. Even small drops left on the counter or washer and your clothes are spotted. I have a whole drawer of "clothes to do yard work in".
By guest (Guest Post)
RE: Preventing and Repairing Bleach Stains on Clothing 03/01/2006
I stopped using the bleach dispenser in my washer as I frequently ended up with bleach stains on dark clothing. I can only think that some bleach remains in the dispenser and is deposited on the next load of clothes. Now I add the bleach as the washer is filling and have had no more problems.
By Joankay
RE: Preventing and Repairing Bleach Stains on Clothing 03/02/2006
I don't know if there is a way to get rid of the bleach "stain", but i did find out that liquid fabric softener will also "bleach" clothes. I have since switched to fabric softener sheets.
By jmz2005 (Guest Post)
RE: Preventing and Repairing Bleach Stains on Clothing 03/02/2006
I have had success with dark blue pants/jeans - by using some of these - 1) use ball point pen in the same color as the pants, then smear with alcohol/hair spray - 2) try permanent marker 3) try eye shadow the same color as the pants (the last is a temporary measure
By pamphyila (Guest Post)
RE: Preventing and Repairing Bleach Stains on Clothing 03/17/2006
I have been a relentless victim of bleached clothing because of my husband's carelessness. He has ruined yet another outfit by being the lazy person he is! My outfit was washing in the dryer before I went to work so that it would be ready for this evening. Instead of him leaving my outfit be he removed it from the washer (damp from being cleaned) and set it aside so he could wash WHITES! He was too lazy to place it in the dryer, but get this, had enough energy to place my fresh clean outfit back in the washer after he was done with WHITES and BLEACH. Not only was my outfit BLEACHED but it was buried underneath DIRTY Clothes. He hadn't even started a wash cycle. Use a Fabric Marker Pen another posting said that Marvy Fabric Pens are the best permanent solution! Good luck!
By Mad Wife (Guest Post)
RE: Preventing and Repairing Bleach Stains on Clothing 04/22/2006
How about navy blue permanent marker?
By Katmommy

Archive: Restoring Bleached Clothing

I ruined two new pairs of pants in two days, both with bleach. The first one I got splatters from the bleach pen on my pink pants and then the next day I was cleaning my kitchen floor and squirted my Clorox floor cleaner and apparently got it all over the one pant leg. I would love to fix these pants, but I don't want to make it worse. I didn't know if dying the pants with the color would help or what I could do. If anyone knows I would love the answer and or suggestion.

Carolyn from LI, New York


RE: Restoring Bleached Clothing

I also used to ruin clothing by washing a load of dark clothes after I had done a washer-load of whites that I had bleached. I pour the bleach into the bleach dispenser on the washer and finally figured out that I had to pour water through the bleach dispenser immediately after pouring the bleach through, because if I didn't, I would invariably ruin something with the leftover bleach that was still in the dispenser. So I keep a pint jar handy and fill it with water and pour it into the dispenser after I pour in the bleach. No more ruined clothes! (06/02/2006)

By Mary Beth

RE: Restoring Bleached Clothing

You can buy a fabric color stripper and then choose a dye to use after they have dried, I would use a color remover first if I wanted the best result possible. (06/02/2006)

By Barbie

RE: Restoring Bleached Clothing

Are the spots in a place where you could have someone applique something over it? And then make a shirt or a piece of jewelry to match?

Archive: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

Hello, everyone. I have lost so many clothes, valued probably over a $1000, in the past five years from my washer. Every third load or so, I get bleach stains on colored clothing and they are ruined. I have tried everything from buying a new washer to calling several washer mechanics to my house for help, receiving no advice that has helped. With my new washer, which I have had for about three years, I have never used bleach in it, however my colored clothes are still being bleached and ruined. It is driving me CRAZY!! Eventually I'll have only one T-Shirt left to my name. Thanks Everyone. I am looking forward to your advice.



RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

Could be the type of water, you should check the water on the value of "Ph" I do not know if this is the water in your country, but it has to do with the ingredients of the water, so they classify the water in hard water and soft water. There could something like calcium or jodium in the water. This also explains the taste of water. The water taste is different at your house then the water of a house 5000 miles a way. It could also be you have old waterpipes in your house. (09/26/2004)

By damint

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

Another thing to check is the ingredients in your detergent. There may be an interaction between the water and the detergent, or the detergent could contain bleach. (09/26/2004)

By ThriftyFun

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

Until you can figure out for sure what the problem is, I would change the order in which I do loads. Be sure to only do your bleach loads after all your dark and color loads are done. There may be residual bleach in the the tub after bleaching is done, and it could get onto the clothes that go in after your bleach load. I have ruined dark clothes because I did them after a bleach load. Also, if your washer has a "second rinse" option, be sure to use it after bleach loads to make sure all of the bleach is rinsed out of the washer. (09/26/2004)


RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

Be sure that you are adding your detergent to the water BEFORE you load your clothing. If you are adding detergent on top of dry clothing, you may get light spots on those sensitive items. Some ingredients in the detergents can react with the fabrics and/or the dyes in those fabrics. That's why the manufacturers tell you to always test their stain removal products in an inconspicuous place. (09/27/2004)

By Sharon

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I was getting stains on my towels, too, and I don't use bleach either. Finally figured out it was a facial cleaner my daughter was using for acne. Luckily it never got on any clothes, but it ruined almost all the towels in the bathroom. Don't know if it helps you or not, but maybe it will help someone. (09/27/2004)

By Molly

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

Dear Ron, don't know if this'll help or not but do you or anyone in your household happen to work with any kind of chemicals? We were having the same problem and it turned out that because my husband works in the water treatment field, some of the chemicals he worked with (think one was some kind of chloride and another was some kine of polymer) were getting on the clothes he wore to work and were having a bleach spot effect on not only those clothes but anything we put in the same washer load with them. About all we could do is wash his work clothes separately. Hope this helps. (09/27/2004)

By Lynn from Calif.

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

Maybe you are using too hot a wash or the wrong powder. (09/27/2004)


RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

What about other cleaners in the house you are using? I had come home from work a couple times and done some light cleaning, spraying the shower. Now I have bleach stains on my shirt sleeve from where I must have rubbed on the shower curtain after spraying. (09/27/2004)

By becki p

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I have found that some products which claim not to be bleach have done the same thing. One that I can think of is Oxyclean. I got spots all over my darks. (09/27/2004)

By Sharon too

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I can think of 2 things. One is acne medicine such as clearsil - I've had it to bleach spots on my carpet when it got wet. Until it gets wet, it doesn't do a thing. Also, do you have a neighborhood well? I had problems with my clothes being bleached when they used chlorine to clean out the lines. Our current provider tells us ahead of time but the old one did not. (09/27/2004)

By Ann

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I find that comet cleaner will do it, and some toothpastes. I don't think the water temp(could be wrong though) would affect it though or the oxiclean, I use that on my darks all the time, also scrub them with the straight powder. I am curious as to what is causing this, please let us know. Good luck! (09/27/2004)

By Jenny in WI

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I had the same problem but it only happened on towels, fortunately. The last time it happened it was on a brand new bath towel and I couldn't understand how it happened. My son finally came up with it, it's his acne medication that he's just recently started using. Hope this helps. (10/04/2004)


RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

Ugh! I"m so happy someone has the same problem! I've been trying to solve this mystery for years! The odd thing is that - I don't have to put my clothes in the washer for bleach stains to appear!
I bought a new pair of shorts 2 days ago and I put them on today and found the bleach stains! I don't remember getting them wet. Is it possible that there is something in the air? (10/20/2004)

By Penny

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

This might sound stupid, but do you sometimes pour bleach from the jug into the cap as a measuring device? Because the jug is somewhat heavy and the cap is small, you might have splashed a little bleach onto the shorts you were wearing without noticing it. It may take awhile before the bleach reacts with the cloth fibers of your shorts, and discoloration may have occurred later. I did this not once, but twice, silly me. (11/05/2004)

By Typical male

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I too have had these "mysterious" bleach stains on my clothes. I switched to non-chlorine bleach & since, have had 3 shirts stained. I thought maybe I had cleaned something in them (even though one was very nice & I knew I wouldn't have done this) so, I tested my bathroom cleaner on the already damaged garment. I sprayed perfume on it. I lathered up my acne soap and put some of it on the shirt. None of these left a bleach stain. Every item I have had bleached was made of some type cotton. I'm thinking it has something to do with the dye in the material. ? Please let me know if anyone else has an explanation. (01/20/2005)

By Tami A.

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

Do you use granular laundry detergent or liquid? My mother bleached a whole load of clothing once by pouring Tide on top of the clothing before filling the washer. This was before the days of Tide with bleach, too. I use only liquid detergent and I let it dilute in the water prior to adding any clothing. (01/26/2005)

By Becca

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

Today as I was carrying my laundry to the machine, the bleach was spilling from the cap, and I didn't notice, and it started reacting immediately on my khaki house pants. I'm waiting for the load, but I think I might have ruined a whole lot more. (03/03/2005)


RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

That always happened to me so now i just wash all of my clothes inside out. It works well for me. Hope this helps. (03/28/2005)

By Jamie

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

My mother just got bleach on my very expensive sweater and it made me VERY angry. Damaged forever, I hate bleach! :) (04/01/2005)

By monica

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

Is there any way or chemical that could reverse the effect of bleach on non-bleached stained clothes. (04/17/2005)

By Revb

RE: Bleach stains on Blue polo shirt. How can I get them out


By Caleb, GA

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I have had the same problem, but particularly on khakis. They get peachy bleached out areas after using only Tide! I have never put bleach in my washer so I know it's not that. I do know that khaki fabric is not very colorfast because stain removers always warn to be careful with khakis.

The care instructions of the items that got bleached said not to use chlorine bleach, but i can't find the ingredients on the Tide box (and it is not Tide with bleach). The only thing I can think of is that I often pour the granular Tide on the clothing instead of letting it dissolve first. Also, we have an old house with a water softener so maybe the water is reacting funnily with the detergent. This problem is getting too costly so now I will only use Woolite on anything I care about. (07/23/2005)


RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I too have been suffering from the same mysterious bleach spots on my clothes - especially light blue and khaki colours - and it's ruined some of my favourite clothes. Despite not ever using bleach in my washing machine. However I wrote to Bosch my machine manufacturer and I got this very helpful reply which I will be trying out straight away - good luck!:

"I think the problem you are experiencing is the detergent coming into direct contact with the fabric. We would always advise using a coloured detergent for coloured clothes as these do not contain any bleach. We would also recommend that you put the detergent into the drawer not into the drum as this will give it a chance to dissolve before it comes into contact with the clothes."

I'm sure if you follow this advise you will have no further problems.

You may also find the attached of use.

Whilst we fully appreciate your concerns and understand how disappointed you may be. We can advise that the problem you are experiencing is depositation of a build up of fat globules and detergent deposits

With more delicate fabrics and bright colours available today, a lot more people are carrying out a lot more washes at 40°C and using colour or liquid detergent. This can present a problem within time. 40°C is not hot enough to kill bugs and bacteria or remove deposits built up from dirt and salts in the water and also skin particles. Also, neither liquids nor colour detergents contain bleach, which would also act as a natural cleanser.

This means overtime, you can get a build up of sludge in the machine, this will also result in unpleasant smells. Sometimes this can dislodge and lift off, entering into the wash cycle and appearing as grey marks in the laundry.

Also if you under dose with detergent or perhaps overload the drum this can also lead to a build up of soil in the machine.

In order to remove this, what you need to do is perform some maintenance washes in your appliance. This requires you to do a series of continuous 90°C washes one after the other without any clothes but with half the dose of detergent, preferably a biological one.

You may have to perform these washes anything up to 6 times in a row in order to remove the build up and smell completely if it is quite bad.

Next, take out the detergent drawer completely and give it a good clean with a sterilising fluid such as Milton's Sterilising Fluid. Clean the aperture that the drawer has come out of with Milton's Sterilising Fluid also paying particular attention to the top where the water comes through from. Use a long handle brush or similar to aid in cleaning. Clean the rubber gasket as well next to the port hole (door).

You should find that this will solve the problem but would advise that in order to prevent future build up it is advised that a maintenance wash (one 90°C Cotton cycle) be performed in your appliance every two to four weeks, depending on use.

I trust all is satisfactory.(/quote) (08/16/2005)

By Vanessa

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

If you are using acne medication as I once did (a creme I think), and you take your clothes on and off soon after applying, it will cause bleach stains on your clothes. This mystery took me a while to figure out. (08/21/2005)

By Scott

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I recently purchased a new washer and now have the mysterious bleach stains . I never had a problem with the old my clothes are being ruined at a tremendous rate! Can't figure out what is happening. (11/10/2005)

By Beverly

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I have been trying to find out the cause of these stains. They are usually pink or peach colored. Initially I thought it was because it was washed with some other piece of clothing that ran color but I have ruled that out. We have used chlorox and tide. Today I lost a few items of my favourite clothing to this stain. I am going to mail these damaged clothes to these detergent makers to find out if they know anything about it. (12/04/2005)

By Yet another affected party

Don't buy new clothing

Depending on what sort of clothes you placed in the washer Remember find the color dye of the shirt and then dye all the shirts

This works well with cotton, polyester etc. (12/14/2005)

By IhateBleach

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

We have a problem with our dark towels in our bathroom getting stained a different color in certain spots. This includes our brand new towels. The original color is a dusty blue. The stain color is like a pink/mauve.

One thing we thought it might be is my husband's dandruff shampoo, which has pyrithione zinc in it. Could that cause it?

Please help!

Thanks! (01/18/2006)

By Joan

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I have had a similar problem but only with my daughters clothing. that leads me to believe it is something she uses on her face and neck, like creams, lotions, perfumes, etc. The spots appear on her shirts and pillowcases and the top part of her sheets. Haven't figured out what it is yet, but its isolated to what has been on or around her skin. It makes sense to me that some people possibly react differently to certain chemicals in these products to cause the "bleaching" effect we are noticing. (01/18/2006)

By marinewife5

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

When I do a wash on the quick wash cycle which is 25 mins only my partners clothes get bleach stains on them. These stains a great big patches. It is only his clothes, I can put mine or the kids clothes in as well and only his comes out with these stains on them. It is all clothing bought from next which I keep on taking back to them and they do exchange for me. But today i have ordered a new machine as I am totally fed up with it as now even his jeans are getting these stains on them. (02/03/2006)


RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

Yea it's acne medication. Especially if your getting it on towels and the collars of your shirts. trust me, (03/03/2006)


RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

It only happens to me when I utilize the "delicate" setting. Cold water. Liquid tide. In the water before the clothes go in. (03/27/2006)

By Jim

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

Jim - could be your detergent....try switching to a different one (look at active ingredients) and maybe use warm water to help it dissolve. I know it says they are for cold only.... (03/27/2006)

By camo_angels

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

OMG! I'm so glad to hear others are having the same problem. I've been reading these posts because I was researching to figure out why I'm having clothes ruined with bleach stains. I'm willing to bet it's because of pouring the detergent onto the clothes rather than adding it to the water first. I also tend to do that occasionally. I use tide, without bleach on my colors. I use bleach on my whites, but I always wash my towels after my whites because I thought maybe it was bleach residue from the previous load that was causing my colors to get bleached. However, I've had the towels not bleached, and colors two loads later were. (we also use acne products, but I don't think these are the problem. We don't wipe our acne creams on our jeans.) (03/31/2006)

By Chelle

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I believe some people may have Ph levels in their sweat/and saliva (pillow cases)that is actually doing the bleaching on the items. Which also would explain the spots on items that have not yet been laundered. (04/05/2006)

By Deanna

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I have stopped putting bleach in the bleach dispenser and now the problem seems to have helped. I also wash my whites at the end of all my washing and then I wash an empty washing machine with detergent on hot to get rid of all bleach. If this doesn't work.... I may stop using bleach (04/17/2006)

By Patty

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I am getting these mysterious stains only on towels. No clothing has been ruined. But I bought some expensive towels thinking that my problem might be cheap towels. They were stained the first rattle out of the cage! What is going on?????

Why only the towels? (04/28/2006)

By Stephanie.

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I've had mysterious bleach stains on a lot of my clothes as well. It's been happening on and off for almost a year now. I don't use bleach in washing machine. I had to laugh when Penny asked "is there something in the air?" lol. But really, it isn't funny. What the heck is it???? (06/07/2006)

By Me Too

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I've had this same problem for years - I'm convinced it has to do with the PH levels in our body - when you are using products that are not PH correct on your skin AND you eat a diet that is highly acidic (as is the case with most Americans) - ie - lots of coffee, tea - any acidic fruits, etc - then that will cause this problem. I exclusively use products from Arbonne International because they are all PH correct (unlike most cosmetics) and when I cut out coffee from my diet - I almost never have this problem. I'm not trying to sell anyone on Arbonne - but I would highly recommend using any of their skin care products and if you'd like to learn more info about them or about eating a more alkaline diet - then please feel free to email me at: christy_fike (at)

By Christy Fike

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

Has anyone considered that it could be splatters from vigorous tooth brushing and spitting.......mouthwash and lens solution splatters? Many toothpastes have various whitening and bleaching properties. I am amazed at the amount of tiny splatters one of my adult sons can create on the sink and mirror when he visits! These small splatters could also land on the clothes but be invisible until the clothes are washed and the water activates the bleaching process. The person wearing the clothes is most likely the culprit.... not the washing machines.....but it makes a great mystery story! (06/19/2006)

By Grandma Margie

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I bought hotel collection microfiber towels from macys and some of them got spotted immediately while others didn't. I only use Tide without bleach. My sister (lives 30 miles away)bought the same towels and she gradually (3months)ruined all of her towels with spots. But she does use a doctor prescribed acne medication.Benzymycin but she does'nt dry her face on these body sheets. I don't use meds and I don't dry my face on these towels.I don't drink coffee and I use Dr. Hauschka face products and castile body soaps that are all natural It only happened to our blue and turquoise towels and occasionally my sons blue shirts or jeans of cotton. This has never in 20 years of washing done this before. I wonder if its the Tide. Or, where is America buying the blue dye from these days. (07/01/2006)

By Michelle

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I believe I know what the problem is. read Vanessa's post where she inserts a letter from her washing machine company.

I have experienced this problem multiple times before.. nearly all my khaki towels are ruined and this never happened before I started doing laundry myself. My mom uses liquid ultra era and nothing has ever happened. I use granular gain detergent and these spots have slowly been appearing on my clothes.

For me, being convinced by reading all these posts, that the problem is the way i put detergent in the washing machine. I put the clothes in and i dig my way into the bottom of the washer and then pour soap in. however... sometimes the detergent falls in on top of the clothes by accident. I remember specific times where this has happened on my towels. when the detergent is in the washer and does not properly dissolve i think it concentrates its power to whatever item of clothing its on. this is why it typically happens with towels. towels are large and when folded up in the washer, it is a lot more difficult to dissolve rather than something such as a sock or a t-shirt. I have had problems with my t-shirts before but the stains appear in rippled patterns. I believe this is because the t-shirt must have been crammed down (maybe too much clothing in the washer) and detergent had become stuck inside the ripples.

I really doubt its things like acne medication or toothpaste or whatever.. its possible, but for such huge and multiple spots on things like bath towels I don't think such a negliable amount of bleach would cause so much damage.

by the way, this is just how it is for me. if you really want to know what is effecting your clothing you are going to have to process what it is you do when you do laundry to narrow down the possibilities. the stains aren't just appearing because they hate you. :)

peace (07/27/2006)

By scott.

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I've had the same problem as all of you have had and I have found the solution for me. Now, before I put any laundry in the machine I set the size onto "extra small" and the temp on hot. I then pour the detergent in and dissolve my fabric softener with the running hot water and pour it into the dispenser. I set the temp hot to dissolve everything and the size on small with the door open just in case I have to walk away for a moment. I do this because I use cold water to wash everything and just hot water to dissolve. So once I'm done using the hot water to dissolve it all (if I do happen to walk away) the washer won't start until I close the door and I can then set it to the size I actually need and drop the laundry in. I know it sounds complicated in words but it's not. Basically just fill bottom up with hot water and dissolve detergent then switch temp setting to desired setting and let it fill up to where you want it. Since I've been doing this I've had no problem on my brand new towels. (08/08/2006)

By Nicole

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I posted before, as stunned as everyone else as to what the cause is, and I believe IT IS in fact acne medication, or anything that has similar ingredients as it, because I haven't had any problems since. :) (08/09/2006)

By Me Too

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

Looks to me like a very common thread is Liquid Tide. I use it too and have had numerous problems. (08/11/2006)

By Lisa

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I have had the mysterious spots on my towels for years now. They actually appear as handprints now, so I know it is a product that I am using which is proactiv. It contains peroxide which is bleaching the color out. Would you rather have bleached towels or acne? I've learned to live with it, but I'm careful not to touch my clothing. (08/25/2006)

By kdkkey

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

If it is acne medicine which most likely is the culprit, why didn't I ever have this problem with my clothes 20-30 years ago? Is it because the medicine is stronger? I'm just happy the mystery has been solved. :) (08/26/2006)

By Nancy

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I have had mysterious bleach like stains on several items. Recently my house cleaner washed my daughtersda rk purple sheets (expensive ones) with no bleach but used liquid Tide and they came out light purple in a bunch of areas. This has also happened on one of our expensive set of sheets. My daughter is only 5 and does not use acne medicine and it is also in areas that she doesn't touch like the corners of the fitted sheets. It looks like something that would happen if you put your clothes out in the sun too long. So I dont think it is actually bleach.

We live in Oklahoma, could it be the water? It has never happened to our jeans only towels, sheets and other soft cotton materials. It will happen on some clothing and not on others that are in the same load.

I've had this happen sporadically in the past 4 years and I can't for the life of me figure out what is going on. The only common denominator that I am noticing here is that many of you that have complained use liquid Tide. Unfortunately, with our new washer, we got two years of liquid Tide free. Go figure What to do!

By Melanie

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I have had the same problem: bleach stains on cotton shirts and towels. While acne medication could be a problem (some spots occur along my collar) it does not explain the stains that have occured on towels and along the stomach of shirts, etc... However, we just got rid of our upright washing machine and bought a new machine that opens in front. Many of you suggested diluting the soap before putting in the clothes, but I don't think I can do this with my new machine. Is there anyway to dilute the soap or any other possible solution? Please help me out. (09/27/2006)

By Tracy


Thank goodness I have all of you guys to help me out. No members of my family were of any help, so thats when i turned to the internet and found this website. I am glad to see all your opinions and i will be sure to try them all out and find a solution to the perposturous problem. All the clothes of mine that were bleached were cotton material. But my best guess as to why these spots are magically appearing is that they are spills or drops of face cleanser/contact solutiond and possibly that when you put the clothes in first and then the laundry soap there after. Well i know i wasn't much help, but there is still a lot of others in assistance for you. (09/27/2006)


RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

We have had the same bleach spotting problem for several years now. Interestingly, it appears on my clothes but apparently not on my wife or son's clothes although they are washed together. I suspect some type of bleach-like residue in the washer. Along with the bleach spot problem, my clothes were smelling like a wet dog when I wore them. Actually they were stinking like a wet dog. In researching this problem, I learned that putting baking soda to the wash will eliminate the odors. Voila! It worked. But the bleach spots are still appearing. I don't use acne medication but my son does. That could be the culprit except the stains only appear on my clothes and no one elses. My wife suggested this morning that it might be coming from the granual chlorine that I use in our spa. As I'm the only one that maintains the spa, this might partially explain it. A couple of granuals stuck to my t-shirt might produce the bleach spots. But it doesn't explain the bleach stains on the back of my casual dress pants. I don't know if we have isolated the problem or not but the earlier posting instructing on how to clean residue from your washer is our next step. (10/10/2006)

By steed4660

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I haven't had any more mysterious stains since I last posted so yes I believe it was the acne medicine. (10/26/2006)

By Nancy

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I had this problem and realized that it was because I was putting the detergent in on top of the clothing. Once I started putting the detergent in first, the problem stopped. Hope this helps. (12/09/2006)

By Linda

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

In frustration, a search led me to this thread. I've had this problem for several years. Detergent always goes in first and allow it some time to disperse. Makes no difference. Problem is most common with towels, but not exclusively. I, too, even bought a new washer. No difference. Although I doubt Tide is the problem, I do use it, but can't remember if I had the same problem while trying others. It's just the only explanation in this thread that is even remotely plausible for me. I'll experiment. All the others are irrelevant in my case. (01/06/2007)

By Guerry

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!



RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I have the same problem! It can be on clothes or towels. Mostly towels in my case. No acne medicine is wiped on the towels, I bleach my whites after my colors AND I use a double rinse cycle when I use bleach because this problem occurred so much. I also started the water first and poured the liquid detergent in, slashed the water around a bit and then put the clothes in... My washer is a year old and has been doing it since day one and on a previous washer! The only thing that I see on this thread is that some people have complained about Tide. That's what I use, liquid tide.. (01/16/2007)

By Hollie

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

OK, I'm so tired of this problem! I've researched it all day and gone over every single possibility there is. The only thing that my issue can be is the detergent... I use Liquid Tide (no, not the one with the bleach). I started a thread on one of my personal threads and was asked every question possible.. and non of them fit a possability for me for this issue. I'm going to the store tomorrow and picking up some "Gain" to try that for a while and not changing anything else to see if it is Tide. I will list all of the questions asked so it's known and maybe someone has the same result as I have..

Acne Medication- We don't use any

Pets peeing on the laundry- I have a separate lundry room, the hampers are in closets, and it started years ago before we got pets

Splashing bleach- I have wiped down the washer inside and out and never do colors AFTER the whites

Working with chemicals- My husband and I own our own IT consulting company, we don't use chemicals

Dried Bleach in the washer basket- I wash the whites in warm water and use the extra rinse cycle every time and cleaned it with the 5 cycle routine with vinegar, baking soda, and hot water

Body Sweat- These spots are on EVERYTHING, kitchen towels, bath towels, comforter cover, all of our (3 people) clothes, etc.

Splashing dish soap- I have a dishwasher and once again its on everything, not just one or two shirts of mine..

Type of water- I have moved in 3 different areas over the years and still have this problem

Type of washer- I have had this issue with 3 different washers too. 2 of them were brand new from the store! The one I currently have is only a year old, and is a whirlpool with many options. It was the highest top load washer available at Best Buy.

Whitening Toothpaste- We use whitening toothpaste now, but didn't before. Once again, it's on everything.. Not just towels.

Laundry Order- I always run the water for a few minutes, put the liquid tide detergent in, and then the clothes. I never put the detergent on top of the clothes.

Softener- We don't use liquid softener anymore, cause I thought it was that. We only use dryer sheets now and have tried changing them. Same issue...

Contact Lens Solutions- We don't use any

Household cleaners- I'm 9 months preggo, and don't really clean at all and its still happening...

Household cleaner rags- We wash all greese and cleaning rags at the laundry mat. They have never been ran through our home washing machines.

I know I'm forgetting a lot of the questions asked, but I hope you get the point that the only thing that is left is changing the detergent. I have always used liquid tide and I have tried liquid tide with the different scents and still the same effect...

So please has anyone had this issue while using "Tide"???? Or has anyone had this issue using a different detergent?


By hol2982

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I marvel at the number of posts regarding this bleach stain problem and yet, a solution has not yet been presented. I do not, nor have I ever, used Tide so I think it's getting a bad rap. My daughter and I have both experienced this bleached spot problem yet we do not wash our clothes together. I sure would like to hear of a solution. (no pun intended) (01/17/2007)

By Ben

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I think in my case, it is may machine. I don't use Tide or any other soap with bleach additives, I don't use acne medicines, haven't changed deodorants or toothpastes, had well water at the old house and have it here too, I always fill the machine first, add the soap, slosh with my hand, then add the clothes.

I think the problem my be that the bleach doesn't fully empty out of the little reservoir when I do the whites, and then for the next load it empties out the bleach into the colors and spots them. I never had this problem with my old Kenmore (that I sold with the house when it sold), so I think it is the machine. My next test will be to not use the little reservoir at all, but to just add the bleach into the water itself. Either that, or we all just start a new fashion craze with spotty clothes! (01/17/2007)

By Persnickety Paula

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

Hi from Kaikoura New Zealand
We are all having problems here in NZ, with stains and bleaching of towels and yellow stains on pillow slips white towels.
We own a Motel all 19 motels in kaikoura have the same problem we all use different brands of detergent and have had meetings with the local council but so far no answer.
New towels which have never been used are appearing with yellow stains.
The problem is only in summer not winter.

By Shirley

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

it could be nothing to do with the washing maching. do you use shaving cream? my daughter attends preschool and the teachers there sometimes give them shaving cream to play with. they were using a new kind today and it bleached her vibrant purple shirt. i'm not pleased. (02/12/2007)

By jessica

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I've actually pinpointed my problem. Strangely enough it was spermicide that came in contact with clothing and bedsheets. Probably not a common cause but I'm 100% sure that's what it was for me... (02/16/2007)

By mad

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I have had this problem with towels only. Used Era my whole life. Got a brand new washing machine hoping to solve the problem. Got new towels. It still happened. Don't use bleach. Don't use acne meds. Don't know what the problem could be. (02/22/2007)

By ssomaha

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

To the people who discovered that acne medication was ruining their clothes (not just the towels). . . What did you do to manage the problem? How did you (or your family member) continue to use the medication while avoiding the stains? Also, if the towels have the acne medication on them, and then you wash them with clothes, could this cause spotting on the clothes?

thanks! (03/01/2007)

By Katie

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I just spent almost an hour on the phone (long time on hold) with Proctor & Gamble about just this problem, and decided to GOOGLE to see if anyone else had it and found this board.

I was told this is due to "optical brighteners" which are present in most commercial detergents. I use Tide "Free" unscented in the High Efficiency formula (for front-loaders) and I don't have a bottle of bleach in the house. The very nice representative gave me the remedy which I have not tried. She said those lightened spots are the color the garment would eventually be after many launderings and this "remedy" will bring the whole item up to that "aged" color. Soak the items, totally submerged (weight them down if necessary) in a solution of one cup of Tide With Bleach Alternative, mixed with two cups of warm water. If you have a lot to do, increase formula accordingly. Soak for thirty minutes, then run it through the washing machine using no more detergent.

Funny, isn't it, that the "cure" will involve a whole bunch more Tide? But she's sending me a coupon. (03/06/2007)

By Janet Hall

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

Yes, glad to hear someone else has experienced this problem too!! I used to think it had to do with washing my clothes, UNTIL I noticed that the bleach stains (on cotton t-shirts) on my stomach and chest appeared BEFORE I even put them in the wash. So, my conclusion is that it has to do with something in my sweat Or something in the fabric dye itself. I don't think it has anything to do with a certain washing machine or detergent or laundry process. My friend and I bought the same t-shirt, and wore it to work out in. That night I noticed bleach spots all over mine. Hers had no stains at all. I did go to a dermatologist and she didn't know what the heck I was talking about. She prescribed a super strong detergent, which I did not buy. I'm not going to put detergent on my stomach and chest. I sure hope we all get an answer to this burning question. I too have noticed random bleach spots on my carpet as well. I did not rub the clearasil on my face all over my carpet. There should be more press on this issue! I too have lost so many clothes because of this! (04/26/2007)

By Jenneil

Its your bra

I would always get bleach stains on the underarms and front of my shirts- the reason bleaching bras and then any heat, moisture or sweat would cause the bleach to bleed through into my shirts. I know rinse any thing bleached twice. (04/27/2007)


RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

We noticed the same mystery spots on our hand towels. My wife keeps hers on the vanity top. We did not know what was causing the spots until I checked the ingredients in her Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask marketed by Neutrogena. It contains "benzoyl peroxide acne medication". So everyone, check the ingredients of your facial cleansers. (05/19/2007)

By Charlie

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I live in Hong Kong and I too have the same problem as every one above. It is driving me nuts (not so much the cost of replacing ruined clothes, but the fact that I cant figure out the cause). Should I run a controlled experiment, manipulating all the hypothesized causes listed in the posts? (06/12/2007)

By Gerry

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I've recently started going to Bikram yoga and now I sweat like a maniac- especially at night. I've noticed my sheets, towels and pajama tops get the bleach stains. I did a little research and found that acidic sweat can cause this bleaching effect. I'm thinking it's all the coffee I drink. I'm interested to see if that is what everyone has in common??? (06/14/2007)

By Gina

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

This website has proved to be very helpful! We, too, have experienced bleached towels and felt our washer was the culprit. And since I am the designated laundry person in our home, my husband always wrongfully accused me of adding bleach to the loads. I don't even keep bleach in the house! Then we thought maybe it was due to our well water. Turns out that my husband washes with a soap that contains benzoyl peroxide... and bleached out all of our towels! Problem solved... hopefully :) (06/22/2007)

By Gina

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

Lots of posts in this thread are pointing to benzoyl peroxide as a possibility - thought I might be able to add another piece of "evidence". My wife uses Proactiv w/ benzoyl peroxide and has found orange bleach stains on her cotton shirts for years. I never had this problem while using the same washer and the same detergent (Tide powder). We recently went on an extended road trip and ended up doing a lot of laundry together. After many different washers, including one at her parents' house and one at our new apartment, I continue to get new bleach stains after we mix our laundry. So this leads me to believe it's coming from a product that only she uses. Needless to say, I'm gonna go back to separating our clothes before washing. (07/05/2007)

By Jeff

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I'm curious how many people who have this problem also dry their clothes. I rarely dry my clothes (and when I do it's low heat) and I never find spots on my clothes. However, many of my towels and my husband's clothes get spots. I wonder if it has something to do with the combination of bleach (or residual bleach) and then high heat. (07/06/2007)

By April

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I do not have your problem with bleach stains. You might want to try all natural products. I have never had any problems with mine. (07/06/2007)

By squirmytadpole

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

How funny. I have been using TIDE Coldwater since I've had my washer and have had no problems. About a month ago, I noticed the spots on the towels and a completely ruined pair of new khaki's. I couldn't figure it out because like everyone else, I've never used bleach. After reading this post, I checked the new medication I started using on my legs a month ago. It has benzoyl peroxide gel in it. I appreciate all the help. (07/08/2007)

By sherlock Holmes

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I started experiencing these spots on pillow cases and towels about 6 yrs ago. I had no idea what to make of it as nothing had changed except a move to a different state in the south. I have used Tide for as long as I can remember and have used acne creams also and never had this problem. I now have moved to the midwest and just recently my mother in law came to visit and in an effort to take care of her mess before leaving, she tossed her towels on the basement floor beside the washer. She just happened to toss them on the floor drain. The towel on the bottom that was in contact with water was completed spotted with what looked like bleach stains.

Having no idea what to make of that I tossed the towel and guesses it was a water issue. Recently after buying new towels I noticed that the towel I used on my body was bleached on the ends and not in the middle while the hand towel was not. Both had been washed together. I decided to experiment...I usually throw a towel over the shower rod and blot my eyes after shampooing which I do first. I took a new towel and didn't blot my bleaching. I continue to not blot my eyes dry until I am completely showered...towel problem solved. Something on my face in bleaching the towels before I use a soap to cleanse.

Now I still have this problem on the pillow cases and I wash my face before bed every night. I still use Tide but I only have this problem with items that come in contact with my face. I no longer use any acne meds. Something is occurring while I sleep that is causing this bleaching! Any ideas? (07/09/2007)

By J

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

Same problem- towels, washclothes, mostly my 15 year old son's clothes.

1. He does use acne meds

2. I do pour detergent directly on clothing

3. I use Tide(called them, they were of no help)

I will change all of this and see if it makes a difference. The only variable that changed, because I have not always had this problem (only for about 2 years) is that my son began using acne meds. I have always used Tide and have poured detergent on the clothes.
Something I haven't seen addressed that we have considered is water softener's. We have one and have had salt delivered for the last few years (we used to fill it ourselves) and the company used "rust inhibiting" salt, which contains Citric acid. Does anyone else have a softener and use this salt? The bleached areas on my towels are HUGE and it is difficult to believe it could be due to a small amt. of acne med. The spots on the shirts have been as big as a baseball. Any thoughts? (07/10/2007)

By Colleen

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I am so happy to find this site...I was beginning to lose my mind thinking I'm cursed with doing laundry. For several years I've been getting mysterious bleach spots on towels and shirts...I use Proactive as well...I've lived in 3 different states in 3 years and used 3 different washers...still having the issue. I've been using Proactive the entire time. I've switched detergent 3 times and still have the issue. Sounds to me like it's the Proactive. I don't feel crazy anylonger. Thank you! (07/12/2007)

By Michelle

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

This is great that I've found this. I now know that I should wash all of my towels separately and hope that all the water completely drains out and will hopefully not affect my other loads of laundry. My husband and I occasionally use ACNE-FREE from Wal*Mart and it has benzoyl peroxide in it. I might just discontinue the use of it and find something without this in it. It has ruined numerous towels of ours, almost all of my husband's khaki pants and has been a frustrating mystery. I'm thankful now for all your feedback. Good luck! Feel free to e-mail with any questions or suggestions! Thanks! (07/14/2007)


RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I mysteriously started getting these orange blothcy stains on my sheets and towels after my BF began staying at my house and using my machine. I never used tide and I never had a problem before. Not only is it on my towels and sheets but it's mostly all of his clothes. He used benzoyl peroxide the Walmart brand then switched to acne free which also contains benzoyl peroxide on his face, chest and thighs, . I only use Salycilic Acid wash (no problems for me). I've just recently started using Tide HE because like many I bought a new front load washer and had a plumber change all my pipes. Well guess what? I only bought the washer 3 weeks ago and his clothes are still staining. But they stain after being washed. I think it may be the mix of benzoyl peroxide, sweat and water making this mess. I washed my black capris from express with his gray shorts from Gap and only his stained. I think problem solved. (07/22/2007)

By Janis

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I started experiencing this problem when I bought a high efficiency front loading washer. Recently I replaced that washer and decided to buy some new towels. When washing them the first time I poured the TIDE directly on the towels and immediately poured water on them. When the cycle was complete I had bleach spots where the TIDE had been poured, but only in that small area of the towels.

I used these towels and after about 4-5 days there were bleach spots appearing on them, as they were hanging in my bathroom in a location on the towel where I was drying my face. I DO use acne medication containing peroxide. I had noticed the spots appearing on all my towels but I have applied acne medication in every bathroom and then washed my hands after using them to apply the medication. I had thought that it may have been caused by liquid anti-bacterial soaps mixed with the chlorine that is added to our city water supply. I now think that it is the acne ingredient.

I will start using delft or woolite for my towels and discontinue using the acne products with peroxide.

P.S. I have also destroyed a load of laundry with my whirlpool(kenmore they are the same) because the bleach dispenser did not empty completely in the previous load. (07/24/2007)

By Molly

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I have been having this spot problem on and off for years! It has me believing I'm laundry impaired! I've recently tried an all natural detergent from Trader Joes's and still have the problem. I just diluted the detergent by 1/2 with water and still had spotting. I'm glad to hear I'm not alone but sorry to hear there is no solution yet! Let's unravel this mystery! (08/13/2007)

By Gail, L.I.,N.Y.

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I've never met anyone who had this problem but me. I'm so glad I've found this site! Unfortunately, we have no answer. I have these peachy spots mostly on blue, gray, brown, and khaki-colored clothes. Have you ever noticed that you NEVER get these spots on black? Weird. I know the spots on my towels are from acne products, the spots around my husbands collars are sweat, but what is on the seat of my pants?! I use All Free and Clear or Cheer Free in required water temperature, liquid, dissolved first before clothes are added, and shake in dryer (without softener) and hang to dry. I wish I had just a penny for every item of clothing that has been ruined (I just live with the towels). Oh, and I never, never, never use bleach! (08/25/2007)

By Sonya

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

Benzoyl peroxide is definately to blame for orangish/pinkish spots appearing on dyed cotton fabrics. It may not be the only culprit, but it's definitely one of them.

I switched from face products containing salicylic acid to a few containing benzoyl peroxide and the spots showed up on a few of my shirts prior to being run through the laundry. I could really care less about sheets and towels getting spots, but I ruined three polo shirts over the course of two weeks.

This week, I'm only putting the peroxide on at night and see if it's as effective without destroying my clothes... (08/27/2007)

By syph

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I think I have the answer to 95% of this. Most contributors say bleach spotting happens mostly on towels and bed linen. The problem is usually NOT your washer, detergent or sweat! It's CHEAPLY DYED cotton. I have had this problem for years. And it only happens to the CHEAP bargain towels and linen I have bought. They are highly prone to dye loss, sometimes merely by washing in regular soapy water. Additionally they are VERY prone to fading by peroxide products. I have several dark towels. One brand I've had for years, can be washed and even used to dry a peroxide cleaned face. No stains. Ever. Another brand (on sale at Target actually) got bleach marked on the first day of use. Oh, and by the way, please don't try and argue that it happens to your expensive linen and towels, that just means you paid a lot of money for the same old cheap dyed brand. (08/27/2007)

By James

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

We've had this problem for about 4 years now. Mostly on light blue and some brown items. Mostly my sons shirts, only one of my daughters light blue t-shirts. They have both been using Proactive for about a year now. We never use Tide. I just washed a brand new light blue t-shirt of my sons and it, too, got bleach stains up around the shoulders. It is usually up around the neck and shoulder area, not under arms. A few of my green and turquoise towels got the mysterious bleach/peachy spots on them. We were going to look into a new washer but no reason to now that I've read all these notes. On another chat room a few folks said they switched to All Free & Clear and no more spots. (08/30/2007)

By Mary

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

Unbelievable! I thought I was the only one with this problem! It's so aggravating and we have ruined so many clothes and favorite shirts over the years! Thank you everyone for the advice! (09/02/2007)

By Mari

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I'm so glad to have found this post. I have the same problem and I am the only one in my family and entourage to experience this. I have this problem for about 7 yrs. It started with the towels. The spots are of different colors if the towels are green the spot yellowish, the blue clothes pinkish spots, lighter clothings lighter spots. I didn't get any spots on the bed sheets and pillow cases (yet). When it started i was using Tide the granular kind then I switched for liquid, then tried other brands always liquid and without bleach.

I bought a new washer, same problem. We sold the house and bought a new one, same problem. We don't use any acne medicine or any particular product.
I put the water in, then the soap, run the washer a few seconds then put the clothes in.

I wash in cold water, could this be a problem?

My husband and another poster suggested to fill part the tub with hot water to dissolve the soap, then fill the rest with cold.
Could it be possible that too much sud in the water goes under the tub and turns out like a paste and this paste goes back in the tub and stain the clothes?

By Nicole

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

Jeez, I had no idea this was so anyone else Diabetic & having this problem? (09/13/2007)


RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I bought new organic green washclothes last week because so many others had been ruined by what we believed to be my son's acne medication. I washed MY face with Neutrogenia mask/cleansing wash and within seconds the washcloth was bleached out and ruined! I read the ingredients and there in benzoyl peroxide in the face wash. Problem solved for us. (09/14/2007)

By Colleen

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

This happens to me, and it's really irritating since I don't use ANYTHING with benzoyl peroxide, I don't use cleaning products containing bleach, and I never bleach my clothes. It's always happened with a public washer, so I figured someone put powder bleach in the washer before I used it. However, it NEVER happens to my roommate and we both use the same washers all the time. The only difference is I wash my darks in cold water and she doesn't. It just seems unlikely to me that washing dark clothing in cold water would cause bleach spots, but I'm stumped. (09/17/2007)

By Jen

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I was having the same problem as well. The spots were appearing while the towel was hanging on the towel bar, not after a load of laundry. So, one by one I dabbed a little of everything in the bathroom on the towel and added a little water to simulate actual use. I found that acne treatments (in our case, OXY 10) caused the bright bleach marks to appear. I then read the bottle... "may cause bleaching of dyed fabrics." No kidding. I thought the Oxy 10 was all washed off our hands, but apparently the smallest amount will do it. (10/12/2007)

By Grant

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

PLEASE READ! I believe I have the SOLUTION! I too started having the same problem as everyone else is describing. I couldn't figure out what was the cause. I had just moved into a brand new apt. with new washer/dryer. All was ok until a year into living there. A few months ago I started getting stains on all my good shirts. Tried changing detergents. Never once used bleach, and still no luck. I finally figured out that the detergent had built up and dried hard as a rock in the place where you pour the detergent in. On mine it was in the shaft of the agitator. Fortunately, this piece comes off. When I took it off and looked inside it, you could see it caked all over the inside walls of the detergent holder. I soaked it in some very hot water with vinegar and it came right off. Problem solved!!! I hope this will help some others out there. I know I ruined a LOT of clothes before doing this! Please post results if it works or not for those who try it! I would love to hear that I helped some people out! (10/24/2007)

By Frank66

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

We recently had a carpets cleaned by a professional carpet cleaner. The carpet is only a year old. The next day after the carpets were dry, I notice orange/pinkish spots in the hallway,my daughters room and an office. The spots are spaced out and there is a total of 4 or 5 in each room. The carpet inspector is saying it looks like benzoly peroxide. My daughter uses Proactiv but keeps it in her bathroom. The spots would have had to come from her stepping in it and walking around. The 1 thing that is puzzling is that the spots are few in number and they are spread out in different directions, not in any pattern that makes sense. Can anyone help! (11/01/2007)

By Carpet101

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

OMG - relief knowing it's not just happening to me. In my case, the bathroom hand towels & washcloths seem to have the most problem with the bleach stains. I usually buy the whitening type tooth paste and kids - well they don't rinse it off quite well and ends up on the towels. The worst things is that it has happened to different quality towels - Target, Linens & Things, to even my Macy's towels $ (11/04/2007)

By sandra

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I have been dealing with this problem for a couple years now, I do use Proactive but i never get stains around the neck of my shirts or anywhere that i wipe my face. I have had new towels get bleached out and pillow cases and I can see logic to blaming that on the acne solution that i use... but... The thing that gets me is that the armpits of my shirts get bleached out after owning them for a while and also my underwear. I don't understand how my acne treatment could be affecting my armpits and underwear. I am going to purchase some PH strips today at the drug store to see what my PH level is at. I am convinced that this has nothing to do with the product that i am using on my face or the detergent i am using... It has something to do with whats in my sweat! (11/09/2007)

By Tiana

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

Well, I finally solved my problem. I wrote here 09-02-2007 with stains on my towels and clothings.

My solution is setting the level of water on small load, filling the tub with hot water plus the detergent then changing the water level to medium or large load and filling the tub this time with cold water.

Amazing. No more stains since then.


By Nicole

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

Is anyone suffering from bad acne on their face, chest, back and head? And has never had acne? Is anyone itchy all through the nite and day and gets bites all over? Head to toe? Does anyone have a dog that is suffering too? Our clothes are bleached in spoted areas. Mine mostly. My wife rarely has any problem. We're constantly itching though and we can't figure this out. Have had it for over a year now. Almost two years. Doctors think we're crazy and that it's all in our head. We just woke up this morning and the duvet was bleached beyond belief. Huge stain. We don't use bleach at all. I'm allergic to it. So it's not the washer thing. Looking to find others who are going through similar instances. Anyone know what it may be or has figured it out let me know please.

You can email me at Jimmyjoneshb AT (11/22/2007)

By Jimmy

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

This happens to my American Apparel clothes and I was wondering if it has something to do with them not being treated with formaldehyde. American Apparel clothes aren't pre-washed and if don't have this preservative chemical.

It has also happened to a new shirt I wore to bed without ever being washed.

Does anyone think it has to do with clothes that aren't pre-washed or pre-treated with certain chemicals? (12/12/2007)

By Anne

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

The hot water in the washer doesn't always work. I use only hot water when washing towels, and the bleach spots still appear. I think it has something to do with the brands. My mom, sister and I all have the same problem and we've noticed it happens only with the towels, sheets, etc. we get at Target. Any brand from Target will do this. We get towels from KMart or WalMart and they don't do this! Strange. (12/22/2007)

By Jane

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I think you may have found it--toothpaste with whitener. We use Aqua Fresh with whitener. We had bleach spots in some Pottery Barn towels and were aghast at how that could happen. We bought new towels from Target and once again found bleach spots...after doing a web search, the only thing that made sense was toothpaste with whitener. I think we've found the culprit. Thank you! (12/30/2007)


RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

I use all natural toothpaste, so I don't think that's it. But does whitening toothpaste have benzoyle peroxide?- the same thing in the acne medications that some people think has been causing the bleach spots?

Why doesn't someone just do a product test on a shirt? Put toothpaste and acne medicine on it and see what happens. (01/16/2008)

By Anne

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

We just bought new front load washer. Have same problems as with our old top loader. Usually a random towel gets a lot of bleach spots, but we do not use bleach. We use Costco Kirkland Free liquid. Don't know what is happening. (03/01/2008)

By MIke

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

OOH Good - I thought I was going crazy too! I thought I had inadvertently got bleach in my towel load - and never thought of it again - it was only happening to my towels. Never my clothes.
My fiance and I buy the cheap Wal-Mart pack of wash clothes and he washes his face, shaves and sets the "never washed before" washcloth on the bathroom counter and in minutes its all bleached out in spots - like a tie dye. thank goodness it isn't me being stupid with bleach I think. but it doesn't always happen when he shaves - and it can happen with just water and no contact with our bodies.

We researched some and found a place here in Washington State who researched their towns water as the entire town was complaining of discoloration of their clothing and they determined it could be: I'll quote from the site - "...he said Ferguson told him the discoloration may be related to the way the city adds chlorine dioxide to its water. The compound, commonly used to disinfect water, may not be mixing properly with the water. There may be pockets of the chlorine dioxide that make their way to the washing machines and cause the splotching in laundry loads. This might explain why in a given load of laundry, one piece of laundry gets discolored while the rest of the load is unaffected."

I hope this helps some of you.. in my case the only items that have been a problem is only 1 shirt - in 1 year and all my bathroom towels from my bathroom only - so I think the previous posts about benzoyl peroxide in products might be my problem - somehow... I had also thought something in the water combined with the new fangled light bulbs?? Its such a mystery but thank goodness it is not affecting my clothes. (03/16/2008)

By Sarah

RE: Mysterious Bleach Stains on Clothing!

Thank-you everybody for your contribution toward unraveling this baffling mystery. We had also had the blotchy towel problem, and discolored spots on some clothes. Having read these postings (which go back more than two years), I would like to provide the following observations and input: 1) There appear to be two separate but very similar-looking problems. a) Large, irregular-shaped discolored areas on towels, especially newly purchased towels: we had these appear on a brand new set of towels (from Sears) -- not all the towels, just some. We do not use bleach in and of itself.

However, our detergent is liquid All (we use both Free and Clear as well as for Whites and Colors ("with bleach alternative"). Sometimes we pour the detergent directly onto the clothes, sometimes we pre-dissolve it in the washing machine as it is filling. Some of the newly purchased towels from Sears appear to have been dyed with a cheap dye -- I agree with an earlier posting comment: "...where is America currently buying its dyes from?" Just like lead now appearing in painted toys -- it's a "new" old problem. When the concentrated detergent (with the "bleach alternative") was poured directly onto those particular towels, it probably had sufficient activity to extract the cheap dye.

This not only left peach-colored blotches on the new towels, but it also left discoloration stains on one or two very old towels (where the dye re-deposited itself). None of our other clothes were affected for one simple reason: like most people, we wash our towels separately from everything else. b) Small spot-like discolorations on clothing (as well as some blotches on towels) that have been exposed to any of the myriad modern chemicals, cosmetics, and soaps which may have a bleaching effect.

In our case, we have found these spots on our daughters clothing -- she uses an acne medication/cleanser containing benzoil peroxide. She probably got a bit on her shirt, and she easily could have wiped some residual chemical from the shower into a towel. In our case, I think these unrelated causes explain the confusing and similar-looking problems. The thing I still don't get is what is happening to those missing socks. (04/13/2008)

By Andy

Archive: Random Bleach Stains on Laundry

My daughter has a problem with her laundry. She randomly gets

bleach stains on her wash. She has stopped using any bleach and

fabric softener and it still happens. Does anyone have any ideas

what might cause it? It doesn't seem that the machine would hold

bleach for months. Very strange.

Thanks for your help,
Sally from South Berwick, ME


RE: Random Bleach Stains on Laundry

Had this trouble with several of my face cloths. Dark colors

ended up with light blotches on them. Turns out it was from skin

cream with a hydrogen peroxide type of chemical in it. Put the

facecloth in the hamper once and apparently it even transferred

onto a blouse as it ended up with a lighter blotch on it, too.


By Tracy

RE: Random Bleach Stains on Laundry

Is she cleaning with anything containing bleach? One time I

cleaned my stove with Soft Scrub and it had bleach in it, and

when I threw it in with my clothes it bleached them.

A lot of items have chemicals in them that can bleach clothing,

maybe she can watch what chemicals she uses (if any) and pin-

point the problem.

Good luck! (03/21/2006)

By <a href="


RE: Random Bleach Stains on Laundry

My daughter had this problem (still does). I figure it's the

face creams or perfumes she uses. The stains are mostly up

around the neck area on shirts, and on pillow cases, and the

tops of her sheets. (03/21/2006)

By <a href="


RE: Random Bleach Stains on Laundry

Occasionally this has happened to me. I have found that this

blotching can occur when laundry soap goes directly on the

clothing versus putting the water and soap in before any

clothing. Also, some detergents have a "whitener" in them that

can cause blotches when put directly on the clothing.


By Sheri

RE: Random Bleach Stains on Laundry

This sometimes happens with my daughter's tees, I'm beginning to

think it could be from one of her many hair styling products.


By yankeesgryl

RE: Random Bleach Stains on Laundry

I am the daughter! So I stopped using fabric softener and

switched to All Free, no dyes or perfumes. Also I started

wearing gloves when I clean. I am happy to report that no stains

for 3 months or more! (04/03/2007)


RE: Random Bleach Stains on Laundry

I heard from my neighbor the other day that some newer washers

that have a dispenser for the bleach. Some of them do not

completely empty out so they can be dripping bleach onto the

next loads. If you use a bleach dispenser or have this type of

washer, it's a possibility. Run only water through your bleach

dispenser for a load or two and see if it makes a difference.


By <a href="


RE: Random Bleach Stains on Laundry

So I only use All Free and Clear, no fabric softener and I clean

in one outfit. I am happy to report that almost 6 months have

gone by and no more random bleach stains, Woo hoo! (07/23/2007)

By Barbara

RE: Random Bleach Stains on Laundry

We too had the same mystery. Finally I realized it was not only

our son's acne wash, but also the Scrubbie Bubbles used to clean

tubs and our jacuzzi. Now I leave a special laundry container

for these items and the problem has gone bye bye! (12/11/2007)

By Mary

RE: Random Bleach Stains on Laundry

I have this very same problem. It's sending me mad. It started

first with our towels, my husband and I had nice brown towels,

and they all started to get random orangey bleach marks. Then,

it was the hand towels, face towels and even my pillowcase and

the top of my sheets. I have since noticed some spots on our

carpet in our bedroom (in front of our mirror) and on some of

our clothing. I went and stayed at my mum's house one night and

she rang me up the next day to tell me that I had bleached her

towels too!

Having read what everyone has posted, I am convinced it has

something to do with me using Clearasil cream and/or a few face

washes. I thought maybe it was Johnson's Holiday skin, but other

people I know use it and they don't have any problems. I too

don't use bleach products around the house and hadn't really

started using any new products, except for Clearasil. I think

this could be it for me. The Clearasil is going in the bin. It's

wrecked too many of our nice towel sets. (02/18/2008)

By Abby

RE: Random Bleach Stains on Laundry

I think it could also be from toothpaste. When you wipe your

mouth of toothpaste on the towel and then it sits there until

you clean the towel. (02/23/2008)

By Melanie

RE: Random Bleach Stains on Laundry

Had the same exact problem and just figured out for sure what it

is. The cleaning spray I use in my apartment has bleach in it.

So, I could have been getting the spray directly on my clothes

while cleaning and secondly (definitely more likely) is after I

clean I throw the rag I used into the hamper with my clothes! As

a test I just sprayed some of the cleaner onto an old black

sock, sure enough, it was instantly covered with the orange

stain. I feel like a complete idiot now, but at least I know how

to put an end to this. (02/28/2008)

By Jeff

RE: Random Bleach Stains on Laundry

I always use the same creams, detergents, etc., but my husband

found a large bleach-like stain on my tan pillowcase the other

morning. The only thing that has changed is that I had inpatient

surgery and was medicated. That night I experienced night sweats

partially due to a heating pad I was using. My thoughts were

leaning more towards the ingredients in the body/shampoo wash

that the hospital provided. (03/15/2008)

By Jennifer

RE: Random Bleach Stains on Laundry

While having lunch with a coworker she mentioned that her

dermatologist told her to keep the prescription face cream away

from color clothes like towels and pillow cases. I have been

having that problem the the towels in the girls' bathroom only.

Now I know. There is Proactiv in there and prescription cream.


By <a href="


RE: Random Bleach Stains on Laundry

My goodness. Finally, after years of random, bleached out spots

on towels. I Googled the problem, generally it is liquid soaps

of any kind. I recently visited a friend's home and found the

towel I had used the night before after washing my face was

"bleached" out in spots. Since the towel wasn't washed in my

home, we looked at what I had used. Simple liquid soap we all

buy for the convenience and use in lieu of bar soap. To test our

theory we put it on a new towel and washed it. Produced the

white bleach spots. I have gotten rid of all liquid soaps and

with them went the problem. (07/17/2008)

By Rosemary

RE: Random Bleach Stains on Laundry

Same problem here! I'm almost positive my last episode of

bleached towels came from my hand soap "Method" located in the

bathroom. Don't wash your hands with that stuff and dry your

hands on a nice towel. That's the only thing that it could be.


By Ashley

RE: Random Bleach Stains on Laundry

So here it is, and I can say this with certainty:

For years I have gotten those random bleach stains. After

finding this post, I did some experiments. Here's the findings:

Laundry Detergent: Yes, this can cause the stains. If you

have a detergent with "color safe bleach" or a "whitener", be

sure to shake the liquid before using, as you can get a

concentration of the whitener in a cap of soap. You can also add

the clothes AFTER you fill the washer with water and detergent,

to dilute the soap issue. If you use powder detergent, I highly

recommend the latter.

Acne medication: Absolutely the highest risk, however I think

there should be an addendum to this statement (mention it

below): Almost all the acne cleansers that are "not" salicylic

acid will cause the problem. Proactiv and Clean and Clear are

notorious. The experiment I did to test the theory was as


I used Clean and Clear in the shower, then made certain (on

an older towel) to dry my face only in one particular area of

the towel. Sure enough, that area proved to have stains upon

drying. To further test this, I asked a roommate to use his acne

product under the same circumstances (area of towel), and the

results, not surprisingly were the same (his Proactiv actually

seemed to make the stains worse).

Now, what about that addendum I mentioned earlier? Be wary of

antibacterial agents in your soaps. Hand soaps with many

antibacterial agents seem to cause the same result. Same

experiment as above was done to come to this conclusion. My

example comes, like a previous person mentioned, from the

"Method" brand foaming hand soap from Target.

I feel that the producers of these products should be held

liable for the damages caused, as no warnings, written nor

implied, are ever given.

I hope this helps people avoid the problem. Do what you can

in your own mode of living to accommodate these issues. In

talking to my doctor, he actually said that the whole

"antibacterial" agents in hand soap are a sham. Soap, in it's

most basic form is anti-bacterial by nature. I have switched my

handsoap to a nice smelling diluted mixture of dish soap

(Palmolive is great on the hands) and water. It's worked great,

and no more stained hand towels. I switched acne cleansers to

ones which use salicylic acid as the active ingredient, and I

always dilute my laundry detergent now, in addition to agitating

the bottle to make certain any whitening and brightening agents

are mixed well before use. Since those implementations, no

problems. (10/12/2008)

By Jason



G" width="400" height="300" alt="RE: Random Bleach Stains on

Laundry" />

RE: Random Bleach Stains on Laundry

The one common denominator is the fabrics, which I think is the

problem. Whether towels or clothing, it never used to be a

problem, so what is different now? I think it's the overseas

manufacturing processes and dyes. My aunt died 2 years ago and

I got a beautiful set of rose colored decorated towel,

washcloth, and handtowels. I use the same products on my skin

that I use on my Ralph Lauren towels from Kohl's and the color

stays true with no spots on the old set, while the newer ones

are ruined. The towels, while put away and not previously used,

were made in the USA in 1987, while the Lauren and others I've

had with similar spots were made in India and other overseas

countries. I've always had oily skin and used benzoyl peroxide,

astringents, and Retin-A for years also, liquid hand soaps and

whitening toothpaste. It's only been in the last several years

the problem has shown up. The same is true for pillowcases, old

versus new. I've also had problems with sunscreen I use on my

neck turning my collars yellow. I think the alcohol in that and

colognes is the reason. These things never used to happen to me.

I really think it's all the overseas, cheap labor products.


By <a href="


RE: Random Bleach Stains on Laundry

My sister who is the authority for all my questions said it's

certain dyes that react to acidic oily skin, that bleach it that

pinky orange color, seen mostly on blues, browns, and khaki. I

once stood in acid rain in London in a khaki top and the

raindrops turned my top into orange polka dots. Now I know

there is nothing that can be done if the dyes are not set by a

process which is why your old towels are fine and the new ones

made overseas aren't. They obviously don't use the needed

process anymore. My blues ones are all ruined and my green ones

are fine. Anyone know if something can be added to the first

washing that would set these dyes properly so it wouldn't happen

later? (06/01/2010)

By <a href="


RE: Random Bleach Stains on Laundry

I have to agree with the folks that concluded the dyes in newer

towels (almost invariably made overseas) are inherently

unstable. I experimented with brand new hand towels that had

never been washed, and was able to produce the bleach stain

problem within a couple of days. It never happens on the towels

I bought 15 to 20 years ago (yes, I still have some of those.)


I don't use any medications containing benzoyl peroxide. I do

use daily sun screens, and I think the sunscreen left on my

hands may be the culprit, as I've seen the same problem with

sunscreen bleaching some of my less expensive (made overseas)

cotton tops.

Bottom line: the dyes used in towels are no longer stable. I

may give up and simply start buying white towels. Discouraging.


By <a href="


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