Why Do Pillows Turn Yellow – Causes & Solutions

Pillows are one of the most important factors that lead to a good night’s sleep. However, when the pillow starts turning yellow, it becomes a matter of concern. Using a pillowcase, in this case, is just a temporary solution to hide the ugly discoloring. Bacteria will accumulate on the stained-yellow pillow over time and affect your facial skin as well as your respiratory system.

But why do pillows turn yellow?

Answering this question can help to find out the best solution for the case. So, here we go!


Why Do Pillows Turn Yellow? 

There are tons of factors that leave the stained yellow area on the pillow. The followings are some of them. 


You can find moisture everywhere. It comes from the room humidity, your sweat, wet hair, saliva, skin oil, or beauty products applied to your body. All of them have a significant impact on both the nice look and longevity of the pillow. And the first and most visible sign is the yellow stain. 

  • Body sweat: Night sweat occurs because of the high room temperature or many clothes that you wear. Over a period of time, the sweat seeps into the pillow, dries, and leaves dirty yellow patches.  
  • Saliva: Drooling during sleep is just a common condition, especially with the elderly when their mouth muscles get weaker. If you are a side sleeper, your saliva will quickly come out of the mouth, travel through the pillow fabrics, and cause the pillow to turn yellow.
  • Wet hair: Showering at night, but you are too tired or lazy to dry your wet hair before going to bed. Moisture from the wet hair is also a common reason leading to the yellow stain on the pillow. 
  • Skin oil: It is the case for those who have oily skin. The oils from head skin, facial skin, or even cosmetics stay on the pillow and gradually damage the fabrics. Consequently, you will find large parts for the yellowing. 
  • Cosmetics: Like wet hair, beauty products for hair, or facial skin stick into the pillowcase. For weeks without washing, they could turn the yellow stain on the pillow.  

Low Product Quality 

Sometimes, your pillows turn yellow due to the low quality of fabrics. In comparison with the high-quality products, the low-quality pillows lose the whiteness much faster. Plus, they tend to get dirty stains quickly. Only a few washing times are also enough to discolor and make them flatter. 

Improper Care

Even when you buy expensive pillows with the highest quality of fabric, improper care can still discolor their color. Some examples include frequent usage, wrong pillow cleaners, and bad storage. 

Frequent Usage

Pillows are nearly the same case as clothes. With frequent use, the pillow fabric tends to fade its original color. The lower quality the pillow gets, the faster it will turn yellow. 

Wrong Pillow Cleaners

A frequent washing routine will make no sense if you use the wrong pillow cleaners. The strong cleaners can damage the pillow materials and make the whiteness fade away. 

Bad Storage

Storage also plays a crucial role in keeping the pillow to stay in white. The ideal place to store pillows must be the one without any moisture and dust. In case you do not need the pillows for the long term, do not forget to wrap them in a vacuum bag. 

What Are The Solutions? 

Do not worry about yellow stains on your pillows because we have solutions. 

Choosing High-quality Products And Checking Tags Carefully

The pillows made with high-quality fabrics considerably helps to slow down the color fading process. Furthermore, they often come with tags that let users know how to and how not to do with the pillows. So, never throw them away.

Improper care against the instruction tag can damage your pillow quickly. For instance, the tag tells you not to wash the white pillow with colorful clothes. Unfortunately, you do. Then, the whiteness will turn into an ugly color. 

Using Pillowcase And Maintaining Cleaning Routine

A pillowcase covers the pillow’s fill to reduce the buildup of moisture, dust, or any other causes of yellow stains on the pillow. However, it would help if you frequently washed these pillowcases (about once or twice per week). 

In terms of white pillows, we suggest placing them under the sunlight for two hours every three months. Thanks to the sun exposure, the pillow will stay fresh without an unpleasant odor so that the discoloring has no chance to come. 

Washing Pillows With The Right Cleaners

The cleaners and washing methods for different types of pillows are not the same. We divide pillows into two main groups. One includes the feather or synthetic pillows, and the other is the memory foam pillow. 


If your pillows turn yellow, the cleaning mixture below can help. It would help if you used this mixture for a couple of pillows.

  • ½ cup of vinegar
  • ¾ cup of washing soda
  • 1 cup of dishwasher detergent 

Note: For better cleaning and whitening, the pillow fill and pillowcase should be in separation. Then, the mixture can seep into both of them thoroughly. 

Washing Methods

We apply different washing methods for two groups of pillow fabric. 

  • Machine washing (for feather or synthetic pillows): Fill ½ of the machine tub with hot water first. Next, add the washing mixture. After mixing hot water and cleaners, you now put pillows into the machine. But do not overfill the machine since excessive rubbing can damage the pillows. 
  • Hand washing (for memory foam pillows): You first fill a bucket with the cleaner and hot water. The next step is to soak the pillows into the mixture for about 10 minutes. Then, you have to rub the pillows with your hands gently till all dirt and stains disappear. 


It is the final step of the washing properly. Wringing out the pillows carefully helps them get dry more quickly without a bad smell. Additionally, using a dryer is also a good idea. Then, you hang the pillows onto a clothesline under the sunlight so that all moisture will be entirely removed. 

Other Solutions

Based on the causes of the yellowing on the pillows, we have some extra suggestions.

If you often drool while sleeping, we suggest changing from the side-sleeping position to lying on your back. This posture can prevent saliva from coming out of your mouth.

Besides the lying posture, you can wear a headdress to absorb the oil from hair into the pillow fabrics. Despite having the headdress, do not forget to dry your hair before going to bed since it can cause a headache. 


Now, we have already got answers to the question “Why do pillows turn yellow?”. Due to common causes, including sweat, drool, cosmetics, and so forth, the pillows’ original fabric color fades away right after short-term usage.  

We hope that the solutions mentioned above are helpful for your cases. For more instructions, feel free to drop us a line. We are so ready to hear from you.

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