If you’d take a peek under your pillowcases, it’s very likely you have some yellowed pillows. Don’t worry; i’s a naturally occurring process. Over time, sweat and natural oils sink into pillows, along with dirt, dust, and other little nasties. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to get rid of them. In fact, there are several ways to clean yellowed pillows so they look good as new. One option is via the washing machine, but you could also opt for a little elbow grease and wash them by hand. Best of all, here are a few tips on how to keep the pillows as clean as possible.
How to Whiten Yellowed Pillows in the Washing Machine
- Hot water
- 1 cup chlorine bleach
- 1 cup powdered dishwashing detergent
- 1/2 cup borax
- 1 cup laundry detergent
- Fill a quarter of the washing machine with very hot water. Add the cleaning solution.
- Turn on the washing machine and let the mixture fully dissolve for a few minutes.
- Put in the pillows (two at a time works best).
- Fill the rest of the washing machine with water.
- Wash a full cycle, including a second rinse cycle if available.
- For down and feather pillows: Dry on air-dry mode.
- For synthetic pillows: Dry on a low-temp setting.
- Bonus tip: Place a tennis ball or dryer ball in the dryer to keep the pillows fluffy.
How to Whiten Yellowed Pillows by Hand
- Read the care tags, especially for a down or memory foam pillow. Sometimes these pillows should not be soaked in water.
- If this is the case, clean these pillows with spot treatments. For instance, use 1) a homemade paste of baking soda and water, or 2) vinegar spray.
- Afterward, place pillows in the sun; this will help lighten any yellowed pillows. Then, apply bleach or vinegar. Alternatively, you could place baking soda on the pillow to soak up any dampness.
- For microfiber pillows, place them in a basin with warm water and gentle detergent. Squeeze the pillows several times to help clean them more thoroughly. Afterwards, rinse them under cool water and squeeze to dry. Remember, you should squeeze foam pillows but never wring or twist them.
How to Maintain White Pillows
- Take care of bed hygiene by changing pillowcases and bedding once a week. However, if you often sweat, bedwet, or wear makeup to bed, change them about twice a week. Remember to rotate your sheets and pillowcases to help them last longer.
- In general, you should machine wash pillows about twice per year to help prevent yellowing and build up from sweat, dead skin, etc. If you are prone to sweating, you may need to wash them more often. The same goes if you frequently go to sleep without washing your face or hair. This is because dirt particles may build up quickly.
- Therefore, going to bed with a clean face and hair could help maintain clean pillows. But don’t worry; you don’t have to every night. Instead, brushing your hair, removing makeup, and washing your face before bed could help keep your pillows and pillowcases cleaner for longer. Even splashing water on your face could make a difference
Keep in mind that according to the Sleep Foundation, you should replace your pillows every one or two years. Or when your pillow stops giving you proper support. You’ll notice this if you begin waking up with a sore neck or struggle to feel comfortable. Additionally, you should discard pillows that feel lumpy or saggy. 
However, some pillows last longer than others. For instance, a polyester pillow might give way after one year, but a latex pillow could keep for three. In general, you’ll have to replace high-quality pillows less frequently. Either way, ensure you are keeping your pillows clean and non-yellowed.
- “How Often Should You Replace Your Pillows?” Sleep Foundation. Lauren Fountain. April 30, 2021