5 Household Items That Can Cause Acne You Never Thought Of

Household items may be the clues you've been missing while looking for what is causing your acne.
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I’ve been an acne fighter for so long (13 years, to be precise), yet it took me a while to realize that the items within my house were one of the culprits that caused my endless nightmare. And to be honest, I haven’t figured out that by myself, but after my dermatologist told me that it is not uncommon for acne to be worsened by some household items. I dug into that, and what I found got me worried pretty badly: the things we often use daily can carry thousands of bacteria and dirt that break out the skin and ultimately trigger pimples. But since you’re, that won’t be a problem anymore. By the end of this article, you’ll know which household items cause acne and what you need to do to reduce their impact on your skin.

Household items that can worsen acne


The most common household items that cause and worsen your breakouts are pillowcases. Dirt, oil, bacteria, and dead cells build up each night on your pillowcase, and acne triggers can get a foothold in the process. Because all these residuals accumulated on the pillowcase are transferred directly to the skin while you sleep, they often block follicles and trigger acne. Also, the pillowcase fabric matters too. You should avoid cotton pillowcases as they’re known to retain more bacteria and dirt that can irritate acne-prone skin. Instead, opt for a non-absorbent and gentle fabric like silk or satin.

How to fix

Wash your pillowcases regularly and thoroughly to get rid of dirt and oil, and use silk instead of cotton for the pillowcases.

Beddings and towels

Dirty and oily blankets, bed sheets, and towels could also be the reason for your breakouts. Just like the pillowcases, these can accumulate residuals and transfer the dirt and oil to your skin, leading to acne.

To fix this

Wash or change your beddings at least once a week.


Tight clothing like sports bras, helmets, and shoulder pads may seem fashionable and harmless, but the pressure they apply on your skin can cause friction and dryness, which in turn cause sweat that feeds bacteria. These factors compounded ultimately lead to acne attacks.

How to fix

Take off your sports bra after working out. Avoid wearing helmets for long hours, or take breaks in between sessions to allow your skin to breathe and reduce the pressure, and control sweating.


Although food alone doesn’t cause acne, it can aggravate it. If your diet is full of sugar and carbohydrates, it can affect the hormones that boost oil production in your skin. Also, dairy products and deep-fried and processed foods can increase insulin and alter hormone levels.

To fix this

Watch your diet. Control the intake of dairy products and deep-fried foods.

Cell phones

We use and carry our phones around possibly more than anything else. Sadly, they expose us to many bacteria on their surfaces that trigger acne outbreaks. The friction caused when the handset rubs your face also causes mechanically induced acne.

To fix this:

Take deliberate rest from your phone and always clean the surfaces with alcohol and other handset-friendly disinfectants.

Can the air around my house trigger acne?

Yes! Air contains chemicals known as VOCs (volatile organic compounds). VOCs are present in our day-to-day household items and evaporate at room temperature into the air. They clog pores and lead to inflammation. New furniture, air fresheners, and repainting walls are notorious culprits unless you use VOCs-free paint or add nontoxic topcoats to paints. New furniture should be aired out when purchased before being brought into the house for VOCs to evaporate outside.

Can stress cause acne?

Studies have proved that stress alters the chemical balance in the body, causing an imbalance that makes the skin prone to acne attacks.

Read next: Face Mapping: Here’s What Your Acne Is Telling You

Who wrote this?
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu
Ana is a sociologist and feminist with a shared passion for literature, psychology, and skincare, the combo that made her determined to start Women's Concepts. With over five years of experience in dermatological research, she has now become a certified skincare consultant keen to convince others of the importance of a diligent routine. Her close relationships with dermatologists around the globe, along with years of researching, analyzing studies, and hand-testing products on a daily basis, made Ana one of the best persons you can get advice from.
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