Tips to Wash and Whiten Your Yellowed Pillows


Over time, you pillow accumulates sweat and natural oils released from your body resulting in yellow stains. And removing those sweat stains is very important, not just to get your pillows white and clean but also to make sure that you don’t pick up any allergies.

We are all accustomed to washing bed linens and pillow covers on a weekly or monthly basis, depending on how dirty one’s house tends to get. Homes with children have to clean more often and white bed linens and pillow covers are a big NO for such houses. Since it’s a cumbersome task, we are almost always too lazy to get out of our comfort zones and wash pillows.

Experts recommend changing your old pillows on an annual basis because of the dust and debris hubs they turn into. If, however, you love your pillow too much and can’t give up on it. it’s time to wash and whiten those yellow pillows to give them a fresh new look.

Why Do Pillows Turn Yellow?

A lot of people ask us why pillows get yellow over time. Your body is designed to release natural oils, whose quantity varies from person to person. Similarly, night sweating, depending on your medical conditions or average body temperature may determine if you get stains on the pillow, which everyone does in a due time. Involuntary drooling can also be a contributor to your white pillows turning yellow.

How to Wash and Whiten Yellowed Pillows

Before you get into washing pillows, you should read the instructions first. Not all pillows are machine washable and might have to be dry cleaned. Therefore check the tag on your pillows for instructions. If you’ve removed the tag accidentally, you can find out washing instructions from that company’s website too. Check for any seams that might open during washing and fix them before you start.

Getting Sweat Stains Out of Pillows

Pillows are home to sweat stains, bacteria and dust particles which turn them yellow over time. Even if you’re careful not to sleep with hair oil or makeup on, your pillows will turn yellow eventually if you do not wash them every once in a while. Yellowed pillow stains can be easily whitened but it is best to treat those stains before you put the pillows in the washing machine.

The best way to get rid of sweat stains out of pillows is to use a DIY cleaning solution. Make a solution with ½ cup vinegar, ¾ cup baking soda and water or a ready made stain removal solution. Spray it on the stained area of the pillow and leave for 10 minutes for getting all sweat stains out of pillows. Then move to the next step i.e. washing the pillows.

Top Load or Front Loader Washing Machine?

You can either wash your pillows at home, in your machine or go to the laundromat to ease the task for you. You can wash your pillows in a top loader and front loader machine, both. However, front loader is the best option when ti comes to whitening pillows.

Try and wash two pillows at one if your machine capacity allows you to. Do not leave the machine fairly empty as that will definitely clump your pillows. The key is to use as less detergent as possible, a tablespoon would suffice. Run the machine on a gentle setting and that too for a few minutes only.

Can Pillows Go in the Washing Machine and Dryer

Some people fear that machine washing their pillows will ruin their pillows or won’t fit their pillows and so they opt for hand washing them. Hand washing pillows lets you be gentle on the pillows but makes it a highly manual task. Take a large tub of warm water that is big enough to fit both your pillows and add in a tablespoon of a mild detergent. Let the yellowed pillowcases soak in the water for some time and then squeeze it to ensure that the detergent does its job.

To make sure that no detergent residue is left inside the pillows, wash it under running tap water. The yellow stains should be gone by this time. Remember, DO NOT wring the pillows at all. This will clump the pillows and break the feathers inside.

It is important to know that not all pillows can be machine washed but there are other ways to clean it, so you should follow the care labels at any cost.

cleaning yellow sweat stains husband pillow

How to Wash Feather and Goose Down Pillows?

Contrary to popular belief, feather and down pillows can be easily washed in your front loader machine. In fact it’s easy maintenance makes it better than other options available. By taking a few precautionary measures, your pillows come out nice and fluffy, as good as new. Here are a few tips that you should be mindful of when washing feather or down pillows.

  1. Always wash two pillows at once. Any empty spaces in the machine will cause pillows to break feathers and clump.
  2. Warm and hot water can cause the fabric to shrink a little, so you should wash pillows at room temperature.
  3. Add a mild liquid detergent, even if you feel that the yellow stains won’t go away easily. Rinse 2-3 times to ensure that no detergent residue remains inside.
  4. Do not use fabric softeners and add a non-chlorine bleaching agent to whiten pillows.

Synthetic pillows, other than polyester can not be machine washed and often the filling is taken out to wash the covers. Putting the filling back in can be a hassle, so it is best to invest in goose feather or 100% goose down pillows and replace synthetic ones on an annual basis.

How to Dry and Get Your Pillows Back in Shape?

Washing may not be the trickiest part of the entire process but drying the pillows sure is. Failing to dry them properly will result in clumping and breaking of feathers, defeating the purpose altogether. Therefore, it’s important that you are very cautious while doing so.

  1. Run the spinner on a low setting. Make sure that you don’t run it on any auto-dry or smart setting that relies on moisture sensors, since it will leave the filling damp. You will need a few rounds and have to spare a few hours for this activity.
  2. Use tennis balls while spinning the pillows dry. This will decrease the average drying time required. You can also add in white dry towels, that will absorb moisture and dry the pillows up quicker.
  3. To ensure that the pillows are completely dry, hand fluff them to see if there’s any moisture present. This will also help make your pillows fluffy again and prevent it from clumping.
  4. Add essential oils to leave a lasting fragrance which you can enjoy for the first few days as you sleep on your whitened pillows.

Although you should replace your pillows every now and then, stains and yellowed cases shouldn’t be a reason. Following these simple tips and precautions can get you pillows that look brand new.

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