Why Do Pillows Turn Yellow?

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Every time you sleep on a pillow, you leave behind hair, dead cells, sweat, cosmetic products, and dirt. All these particles pile up, causing your once-pristine pillow to turn yellow.

Moisture and Dampness

Moisture is present everywhere, as we all know. We’re not going to talk about the humidity and dampness outside, assuming you don’t sleep outdoors.

Nevertheless, the degree of dampness in your house, the warmth you set your thermostat at when sleeping, wetness from your hair, and sweat while sleeping may all have a significant influence on the lifetime of your pillow, leading it to lack its fluff and capacity to insulate correctly.

As a result, your pillows will tend to go yellow over time.


Overnight, the average individual can lose up to 1 liter of water, and that water needs to go somewhere.

Some of the water is handled internally during the night, which is why you need to pee as soon as you wake up in the morning, and some of it seeps into your inner comforter, mattress, and pillows in the form of sweat. 

Your sweat comprises water, urea, ammonia, salts, and sugar. When these chemicals react with those present in your deodorant or bacteria, it leaves yellow stains on your pillows.


Sleep salivating or drooling is a guaranteed way to end up with a stained pillow. You can accurately identify dried saliva stains on your pillows if you check carefully. They resemble puffy brown clouds, as awful as they sound. 

Also read: Why do people drool in their sleep?

If you drool frequently, you may notice that your whole pillow is brownish rather than yellow. This is due to the fact that saliva rapidly leaks through your pillow cover, carrying whatever dirt and debris that is on your pillows with it.

Tears work in the same way.

Self Care Essentials 

Another challenging but manageable opponent is the oil from your skin, which leads to the yellowing of your down pillows, feather mattresses, and down blankets over time.

The oil in your body takes several years to yellow, but the oil in moisturizers worn after a bath inflicts the most harm to the linen used to manufacture down shells.

Bathing habits are obviously difficult to modify, but cosmetics and scents administered early will reach the luxurious down plumes and feather clusters within the cotton shells.

Your night-time beauty routine may help you sleep, but it may also make your pillow appear worn. Serums and toner cartridges that are not absorbed into the skin might leave a stain on your pillow.

When you press your makeup-covered face against your pillow while sleeping, the makeup will slip past the cover and leave orange stains on it.

Food Stains  

Food stains on pillows and other bedding items are typical because people often eat in bed and spill things. Removing a stain on white is more difficult than removing one on any other color.

Even so, it’s difficult to entirely remove food stains because some pigment is always left behind. However, using a fabric whitener discolors your pillows! Your white pillows will eventually turn yellow, which is not a pleasant experience.


Are Yellow Pillows Healthy to Sleep On?

Yellow pillows are healthy to sleep on if the reasons for their turning yellow are one or all of the following: 

– Infrequent cleaning
– Food stains
– Discoloration due to bleaching 
– Sweat stains 

In such cases, your pillow can be washed and cleaned deeply with warm water and detergent. 

Yellow pillows are unhealthy to sleep on if you face the following issues: 

– Mold growth
– Consistent exposure to moisture
– Frequent neck and back pain
– Respiratory issues because of exposure to allergens
– Skin irritation and itching because of dust mites
– Heightened hair fall

Can the Yellowing Be Reversed?

Yes, the yellowing of your pillow can be reversed, but each stain should be treated individually.

Pillows are stained largely by perspiration, grime, and cosmetics. However, food stains and body oils can also cause discoloration. Spot treat any tiny stain using a regular stain cleaning spray or a bicarbonate powder and water mixture before tossing your yellow pillows into the laundry.

Pillows should be washed in a solution of water, washing soda, and detergent. Instead of just using your regular detergent, run a cycle that includes laundry soda, washing powder, and vinegar solution.

How to Prevent Your Pillows From Yellowing?

The most effective method is to use a pillow protector to safeguard your pillow. These are a low-cost approach to offering an additional barrier between perspiration, oils, and humidity and your pillow.

Pillow protectors are minimal maintenance since they can be cleaned weekly with your bedsheets. We recommend rotating a few so that you will always have one extra on hand.

If you sleep with wet hair, the water will leak through and stain your pillows yellow over time. Stop wearing thick oil-based skin care products and lotions to sleep, and wash your make-up before going to bed.

Can You Wash Yellow Stains From a Pillow?

Combine one part purified vinegar and one part hot water to make a solution. Do not immerse the pillow in it; instead, massage and scrape the exterior of the pillow with the mixture.

You may also use a cleanser designed particularly for discolored white clothing. Place the pillow in the washing machine after removing a stain. Allow the washing machine to finish a regular wash cycle before removing the cushion and drying it in the sun.

Check out our article about how to wash pillows here

How to Tell if It’s Time to Throw Away Your Pillow?

It’s time to throw away your pillow when…

– It has lost its former shape.
– It feels lumpy.
– You don’t feel comfortable sleeping on it.
– It’s giving you muscle pain, neck problems, headaches, fatigue, and allergies.
– Its stains are resistant to deep cleaning.
– It smells bad.

Moreover, in general, your pillows should be replaced after 2-3 years.


Remember, you need not replace your pillow simply because it is discolored. Use this guide to avoid staining them in the future. But don’t throw away your old yellow cushion just yet. It can be reused or recycled.

We hope this article was useful. Please forward it to anybody who may have a similar query.

Have you ever fixed a yellow pillow? Tell us in the comments below.

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