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White towels/sheets and nightmare of P20

Hi everyone, I have been using white towels and sheets since hosting. They look nice and clean. Each time I wash them, I add a little bit of liquid bleach to keep stains away and for hygiene reason.

Though, after a family checked out recently, I found 6 of my towels have pink stains yesterday. And today, I found pink stains on many sheets and pillowcases after washed with bleach. I then did a little google research and found out these pink stains are caused by a chemical called p20 contained in some sunscreens. P20 plus bleach will turn white linens pink. And hosts are unable to know the sheets and towels have been stained by p20 until they wash with bleach…so i find it annoying and a nightmare if my future guests use these.

I now have loads of towels and sheets with pink stains, these will probably cost me more than $150 AUD if I replace them. So I want to try save them if I can.

According to google, some people say vanish can remove these pinks stains, I tried but the stains just turned light yellow. Some people mention white vinegar will work, some mention more bleach will work, but others warn against using more bleach and claim that would make it worse. I haven’t tried methods other than vanish.

Can anyone with such experience teach me the best method to save my towels and linens? Thank you so much!

And I want to warn hosts using white towels/linens and bleach. This may happen to you…and I hope we can find a good way to deal with it :slight_smile:


Good luck with it - keeping the white linens white drives me batty. I’m just about to replace a bunch of my towels.

I’ve never come across pink stains - my stains are yellow across a bunch of things? Anyone know what that is?

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Don’t use white towels :slight_smile:


I agree with Helsi – white towels are a “hotel signature item”. Do you really want to be a hotel? Wouldn’t you rather be a welcoming "feels like home kind of place?

We buy colored towels that go with our color scheme and décor. We’ve had only one towel “go bad” and that was a fluke caused by a lump of powdered detergent that bleached a streak in the fabric.


Try to explain to guest with photos and ask to pay. You have 15% chance if they are reasonable

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I have gone with medium light grey for sheets and a dark charcoal for towels. Much more forgiving,


I wouldn’t use bleach. It weakens the fibres and eventually causes holes. Use Oxyclean instead. The white sheets, towels, duvet covers etc. that I currently use were bought in 2015 and although the towels have been used to remove mascara, and I’ve had just about every bodily fluid imaginable on bedding — I’ve not lost a single item due to stains.

Sometimes items will need to be soaked, then washed, then soaked again etc. - sometimes three or four times.

I’ve never had pink stains due to sun products, only from hair dye (bedding, towels and white shower curtain) but plenty of yellow ones from skin products. I don’t know if it will work for you but I find that soaking, washing (in cold water - hot seems to set stains in) then hang them in the sun. Repeat (several times!) if necessary.


I agree with @jaquo about Oxyclean if it’s available in your country. I only use chlorine bleach if I know or suspect that the guest has been ill. Since they are ruined anyway it won’t hurt to experiment with a variety of products to see if you can remove the stains. I also agree with washing several times.

I also agree with using white linens instead of colored ones. I’ve experimented with colors, whites and also patterns and solids. When I began airbnb I only had colored sheets. Those got ruined much faster than the whites. It’s also harder to see the hair that’s left on the sheets after laundering. And I also prefer white as a guest.


Please see info below: the p20 website & a product they recommend


If staining does occur, we have found that they can be removed by following these washing instructions and treating with a commercial stain remover, with the best results seen if applied on the 1st wash:

We recommend De-Solv-it® Universal Stain Remover & Pre-Wash Spray, following the instructions for use and important advice carefully.

o Stains should be dealt with as soon as possible after they occur.

o Always test De-Solv-it® Universal Stain Remover & Pre-Wash Spray on a small area on the item first to check for colourfastness and compatibility.

o Follow De-Solv-it®’s instructions, then wash according to the manufacturer’s instructions on the item(s) to be cleaned using the Pre-Wash cycle and highest recommended temperature.

o Add slightly more detergent than you would normally use.

o Repeat the treatment if necessary.

o Do not use any form of chlorine or bleach, as it may turn the stains pink.


I think the problem she’s run into is she already used bleach. So now is the protocol different for removing the pink than it was for the initial stain?


At the bottom of this link is a “contact us”. I was sharing the FAQ info for general information. The P20 site doesn’t say what can get out the pink. Perhaps asking them directly would give the needed info.


Then you end up with my problem - people who use Proactive and other Benzoyl Peroxide containing products. You’ll have bleached out spots instead of pink spots and it won’t just be your towels because they make a cream to use after the wash and the cream will ruin your linens!

Then if you’re lucky you’ll get the dreaded self tanner and women having sex on their period. Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

If you can’t get Oxyclean try Borax (20 mule team)

Check out their site for lots of good cleaning solutions:

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Thank you everyone for replying and helping! I live in Australia so some of the great products above are hard to get here.

I used Oxiclean (Vanish) multiple times and was able to save most of the stained towels and sheets, but some still have light yellow stain on them.

Though, even the “looking clean” towels and sheets cannot be in contact with bleach anymore. The pink stains just return when bleach is present. And the stains disappear after a long warm wash with oxiclean.

I’m seriously considering changing to coloured towels and linens, but I invested a lot of money to purchase the current ones (I purchase 24 sets of towels, each set contains 3 towles; I also purchased 3 sets of linens for each bed). Since 70% of the originally purchased items are still good to use, I will have to wait a little longer before I start to switch.

Hi Freya,
I am in Australia too. Have you tried the Aldi clothes washing brands - they are superb and very reasonably priced. My whites are so much cleaner.
I use the green apple one at $1.50 a bottle. I put 2 tablespoons in my front loader, anymore and it looks like a snow man has exploded in the laundry. The bottle lasts so long even with my guests using it too.


I have some white towels, but mostly grey or beige. Unless you’re a hotel operations that can buy in bulk for cheap to replace stained items and bleach linens to within an inch of their life (which is bad for the environment) it is most sustainable to change all fabrics from white to something that doesn’t show stains as easily. I use patterned sheets, quilts, and duvets, and I never have to replace them, nor do guests think they are unclean. All my plain, unpatterned white linens have had to be replaced at some point.

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Hi Freya,

Did you get the pink out? My mom is old school and swears by vinegar soaks. Just found this:

Also, I use white everything, too. Sheets, towels, duvet covers. We have dupes of all for each listing: two sets of sheets, two duvet covers and ~ten towels for each listing. (Listings are studios with max two guests).

I replace hand towels and face cloths often. Usually from make-up. Bath towels about once a year when they start to grey, sheets can last a while, depending on care. We pre-treat all stains with spray n wash and have a small brush to work out stains before wash, then put on sanitizing cycle if there are stains. Don’t lose many sheets treating stains this way. We hired a new cleaner who wasn’t pre-treating stains and lost three sets of sheets in one month. I also use fabric softener which fluffs the towels. Guests comment often on how nice the towels are and how soft the sheets feel, and both are economical.

We tried brown/beige/grey linens and all were lost to proactiv benzoil peroxide products rather quickly. White is working out well. We charge for any damaged linens. Many stains come out with multiple washes, but if it’s washed once and doesn’t come clean, the charge goes to the guest. We say “Sorry, but we weren’t able to save the stained _____.” Haven’t come across a single guest who balked (in ten years). They know when they ruined the sheets and still review positively. We’re just matter of fact about it and don’t embarrass anyone, but don’t eat the cost either.

Like someone else has said on this forum, they had their own sheets for years and no stains. How do these people ruin them in one night? lol Me too. But I still think the white is great and looks really sharp.


Same here. Isn’t it odd how color linens work for some people and not for others?


I know, right? Maybe it’s region specific. I’ve seen great listings in cabins with organic brown and beige towels. Probably works well there and other spots.

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Mix together
1 tsp. Dawn ( also called Fairy in Europe) original blue dish liquid
2 Tbsp. Baking Soda… not baking powder
4 Tbsp. Hydrogen Peroxide

Dampen stain with water, and apply stain remover, wait a little while before washing, maybe an hour. Don’t allow mixture to dry, blue may transfer…


Hi Jacqueline, thanks a lot, I will head to ALDI when I shop next week!

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