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How do you get yellow stains out of your pillow?

24 Nov, 2023
Johnno van den Brink

If your pillow turns yellow, it is wise to clean it. For example, you can wash the pillow in the washing machine, but you can also remove the yellow stains with lemon juice, white vinegar and baking soda, among others. All the ways to get yellow stains out of your pillow can be found in this article!

What causes a pillow to turn yellow?

A pillow can turn yellow over time due to various factors, and these factors are often related to the accumulation of body fluids, oils and other substances. Below we list them:

  • Sweat: During sleep, your body produces sweat. The pillow absorbs this, eventually causing yellow stains.
  • Dead skin cells: Your body also secretes dead skin cells during your sleep. They accumulate on your pillow, which can result in yellow discoloration.
  • Natural oils: The natural oils produced by your body migrate into your pillowcase. Eventually they also penetrate your kisses. This can cause it to yellow.
  • Saliva: Some people drool a lot while sleeping. Their saliva can produce yellow stains on the pillow.
  • Makeup and skin care products: It is not wise to go to bed with makeup on, as it can cause your pillow to yellow. This is also the case with skin care products.

The best ways to get yellow stains out of your pillow

If your pillow has yellowed, you don’t have to buy a new one immediately. In fact, there are several ways to get yellow stains out of a pillow. Is the pillow washable? Then the best strategy is to mix three cups of warm water with a cup of liquid dish detergent, half a cup of white vinegar, three-quarters of a cup of baking soda and the normal dose of your detergent.

Add this mixture along with your pillow into the washing machine and turn on the machine. If all goes well, the yellow stains will disappear like snow and thus your pillow will be completely white again. Does this way not work quite right? Then there are even more suitable methods to get the yellow stains out of your pillow. These are home, garden and kitchen tips, so best always try on a small piece of fabric. And know that we cannot guarantee success. But these are the additional tips:

Baking sodaMake a paste by mixing baking soda with a small amount of water. Spread the paste over the stain. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes or longer. Gently scrub the stain with a soft brush or an old toothbrush. Wipe away the paste with a damp cloth.
White vinegarMix equal parts white vinegar and water. Dab the stain with the mixture. Let it sit for a few minutes before wiping with a clean cloth.
Lemon juiceMix equal parts lemon juice and salt into a paste. Apply the paste to the stain and let it sit for 30 minutes. Rinse the area with water.
Enzymatic cleanerUse an enzymatic cleaner designed for removing stains from fabrics. To apply, follow the product’s instructions.
What causes a pillow to turn yellow

Can you prevent yellow spots? 5 Tips

You now know how to get yellow stains out of your pillow, but of course it’s even better to avoid them completely. After all, prevention is better than cure! Fortunately, there are several tips that help in this area:

1. Wash your pillowcase

Wash your pillowcases at least once a week or more often if necessary. This helps remove accumulated sweat, oil and other residue that can lead to yellow stains.

2. Use a pillow protector

Actually a no-brainer, but consider using pillow protectors, which are covers with or without zippers that go over your pillows. These can provide an additional barrier against sweat, oil and other substances, preventing them from reaching the pillow itself. A sleep store usually has several models, tailored to the cause of the stains.

3. Choose moisture-wicking materials

Choose pillowcases and pillow protectors made of moisture-wicking or moisture-regulating materials, which quickly disperse moisture and help draw sweat away from your skin and reduce the likelihood of yellow stains, for example. Because when moisture dries, it leaves dirt behind, and that is the basis of the discoloration in your pillowcase or the yellow stain.

4. Buy a hypoallergenic pillow

Consider using hypoallergenic pillows, as they are often designed to resist allergens. The pillows are then often either washable at high temperatures, have a dust mite-killing coating or treatment such as Bi-Ome® or they are provided with probiotics such as Purotex®. As a result, they are generally less likely to turn yellow.

5. Remove makeup

If you wear makeup, make sure to remove it before you go to bed. After all, makeup residue can contribute to yellow stains on pillowcases, which you can therefore prevent by removing these care products from your face before you go to sleep.

How to get yellow stains out of your pillow: Frequently Asked Questions

You can wash a yellow pillow in the washing machine to make it white again. To do this, mix three cups of warm water with one cup of liquid dish detergent, half a cup of white vinegar, three-quarters cup of baking soda and the normal dose of your laundry detergent. Your yellow pillow will come out of the washing machine white again because of this!

Pillows yellow because of several reasons. Sweat, for example, causes this discoloration. This includes dead skin cells, hair products and natural oils. Even if you wash your pillowcase regularly, chances are the pillow will turn yellow over time.

Always check the label, but in general it is definitely possible to machine wash your pillow. If the pillow is yellowed, you would do well to wash it with warm water and detergent so that your pillow will become clean again through the washing machine. You can tackle stubborn stains with baking soda, white vinegar, lemon juice or enzymatic cleaner.


Of course, a pillow with yellow stains does not exactly look fresh and hygienic. Many people then choose to buy a replacement, but that is actually not always necessary. In fact, you can also clean your yellow pillow yourself.

To get the yellow stains out of your pillow, you can use several ways. However, the best option is to mix three cups of warm water with one cup of liquid dishwashing detergent, ¾ cup of baking soda and half a cup of white vinegar. Add another standard dose of your laundry detergent to this and throw your pad into your washing machine with the mixture. Turn on the washing machine.

After the wash, your yellow pillow should be completely white again. A child can do the laundry!