Bleach Blanket Blingo?
March 13, 2023 5:55 AM   Subscribe

How do the Bleach Gods know to single out ONLY the new, trendy, spendy clothing items for their Evil Marking? How can they be appeased???

ONE member of our household has clothes - especially colored t-shirts - constantly ruined by pink spots and stains that appear (to me) bleach-related. This has been happening for about a year. The latest victim is was purchased from a trendy brick-and-mortar shop - and is less than 2 weeks old.

Wit's end, I'm at you.

The facts:
- Bleaching presents primarily as a pink 'haze' but there are also occasionally tiny bright spots on the same garment as the haze. example from one side of one shirt
- Bleaching occurs randomly across each garment (aka not where the person might have rubbed up against something).
- All laundry goes through a new-ish but non-fancy top-loading washer and front-loading dryer.
- No laundry products contain bleach.
- Some cleaning products may contain bleach-like products but are only used in very localized areas where clothing does not go (like the shower grout or kitchen sink).
- We all wear colored t-shirts but this person's colored t-shirts are the only victim.
- No pants, from any person, have ever shown signs of bleach.
- Shirts and pants are washed together.
- Bright bleach spots very occasionally appear on this person's specific towels, which are a different 'model' than the towels of the rest of the household.
- Very very few cosmetics (and absolutely 0 skin-lightening products or nail polish remover) are in use in the household.
- This person uses a prescription face cream but does not wear these t-shirts while using. Colored pillowcases do not show bleach.
- All people reliably use plastic hampers in bathrooms, put there to ensure that discarded clothes don't accidentally touch any floor where any cleaning products are used.
- Various laundry tests indicate it is unlikely to be bleach residue in the washing machine or dryer.
- No one is involved in any solvent-related activities outside the household.
- The bleach victim does (sadly) 0 cleaning in the household.

- The clothes in question are ironed frequently. Could it be the... ironing board? the iron?... but we don't iron the towels and we DO iron the pants...
- Could this be a dye issue in the manufacturing process?
- Should we swap out every cleaning product in the household, just to eliminate that variable altogether?

Would love to hear your ideas.
posted by nkknkk to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total)
Some kind of skin product that person uses? There are acne creams with something that bleaches fabric.
posted by LizardBreath at 5:56 AM on March 13 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Not going to thread-sit, but yes, an acne cream is in play. But how does the bleach from the cream get spread across (for example) the armpit of a beloved t-shirt that is never ever worn while using the cream?
posted by nkknkk at 5:59 AM on March 13

Is it possible that the person puts on the acne cream, rubs their hands on a towel, puts the towel in the hamper, and then puts the t-shirt on top of the towel?
posted by OrangeDisk at 6:14 AM on March 13

my partner's face cream used to bleach my t-shirt shoulders because they'd lean their head against me during hugs.
posted by noloveforned at 6:18 AM on March 13

Best answer: This is just one of the joys of using skin products with benzoyl peroxide in them. No matter what you do, that stuff gets everywhere. The most effective thing is to wash one’s hands really well after application, and then DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE if you can help it afterwards (generally a good idea for acne prone skin anyway).
posted by rockindata at 6:20 AM on March 13 [11 favorites]

Cream is applied to face by hands. Hands are washed and or hands are used to wash the face and body, residue of the acne product is being spread all over. There are recommendations on the internet to use acne face wash in arm pits to combat body odour as well for example so who knows what all things the person uses and does.

Towels are used to dry off the spread residue of cream/facewash etc. Hands are used to touch face and then clothing, people put their faces on their arms etc. There are many ways for the product to transfer.

The person needs to be extremely diligent about thoroughly washing hands/face/body, ideally they need to use white towels. They need to not touch their face after applying the treatment etc.
posted by koahiatamadl at 6:22 AM on March 13

I had a beloved sweater ruined by the kitchen sink bleach cleaner because I was reaching back to get something behind the sink. I was the shortest person in the house and my sweater touched the counter that wasn't properly rinsed off. However, this was not just a little spot, it was a big smear. All of the pictures are close to the armpits and so I would also check on the antiperspirant/deodorant angle.
posted by soelo at 6:25 AM on March 13

Benzoyl peroxide in anti-acne creams and face washes can definitely do this. My sister and I turned some purple hand towels a streaky pink this way when we were teens, and it didn't show up until after the towels went through the wash.
posted by abeja bicicleta at 6:28 AM on March 13

Response by poster: OK....I'm intrigued.... but if it's the acne cream then why wouldn't the bleach appear (or at least be more concentrated) on their pillowcases, which is where their face goes immediately after the cream, and wouldn't it be much more strongly visible on the towels?
posted by nkknkk at 6:30 AM on March 13

Best answer: Benzoyl peroxide isn’t as good at bleaching as actual chlorine bleach. Some fabrics just don’t bleach at all with it.
posted by rockindata at 6:40 AM on March 13 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The pillowcases may be a synthetic fabric resistant to bleach, for example, or the particular dyes used might not be affected. Benzoyl peroxide was my first thought too—I’ve bleached a lot of clothes with it by accident.
posted by music for skeletons at 7:31 AM on March 13

Yup if someone is using benzoyl peroxide cream that's absolutely the culprit.
posted by potrzebie at 9:03 AM on March 13

I only recently figured out the benzoyl peroxide thing myself, after wondering why my kids were using bathroom hand towels to clean (they were not). So this person needs to wash their hands super well after applying acne cream. I wouldn’t spend a lot of time focusing on why, but they might be running their hands on their shirt to get the extra cream off. But focusing on how might get them a bit defensive.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:18 AM on March 13

Best answer: I honestly do not believe it is possible for most of us to wash our hands and avoid face touching well enough to avoid this effect. I have never, ever managed it, anyway, and I tried really hard! It's on your face, things touch your face, things touch those things... how about some other acne remedies instead, is what I decided.
posted by redfoxtail at 9:42 AM on March 13 [2 favorites]

I use benzoyl peroxide and don't stain my fabrics anymore:
1) you only need a very tiny dab on actual pimples, more isn't better, it'll just make you flaky
2) plan your routine so you can let it dry for a couple minutes before touching your face - brush your teeth after
3) consider a lower % BP product, again, more isn't necessarily better

(salicylic acid doesn't do anything for me, so careful BP use it is)
posted by momus_window at 11:02 AM on March 13 [1 favorite]

Putting the cream on and then taking off the shirt, the fabric might be rubbing against their cheek/forehead to make the hazy areas.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 12:40 PM on March 13 [1 favorite]

If they have trouble washing their hands well enough to get it all off, maybe they could apply the benzoyl peroxide product with a cotton swab, and then try to be extra diligent about pulling shirts away from their face when taking them on and off?
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 3:17 PM on March 13 [1 favorite]

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