Why Do Pillows Turn Yellow? 6 Reasons and Fixes


It’s normal for your pillow to get a yellow stain or start to turn yellow. Most of the time, the yellow color is on the pillow itself, not the pillow cover that goes over it. Why do pillows turn yellow?

When you sweat on a pillow, it turns yellow. Other things can cause a pillow to turn yellow, like sleeping on it with wet hair, having lotions or oils on the skin, or letting it get wet. If moisture like sweat stays on the pillow for a long time, it will turn yellow.

In this article, we’ll talk about why your pillows turns yellow and what you can do to stop it.

The Reasons Why Do White Pillows Turn Yellow

As previously stated, several factors contribute to the yellowing of a pillowcase. These yellow-outlined stains or blotches on a pillow are widespread.

  1. Sweat
  2. Drool
  3. Wet Hair after a Shower
  4. Beauty Products and Makeup
  5. The Cleaning Products Breaks Down
  6. Frequent Use


The most prevalent cause of a yellowed pillowcase is perspiration. As human bodies regulate the temperature by exuding sweat from the glands, sweating is something that no one can control.

When people sweat, their bodies expel salt and other minerals from the bodies. It is absorbed right into the pillowcase and the pillow itself. This will eventually lead to the pillow turning yellow due to discoloration.

Sleeping in a warm environment will naturally cause the body to sweat more. In the summer, if you have to sleep beneath the blankets, you’re more likely to sweat than if you don’t.

Fans or other devices that circulate cool air should be purchased to keep you from overheating while you sleep.


Drool is a regular phenomenon, yet most people aren’t aware of it. Drooling people are more likely than others to wake up with a stain on their pillow.

It is more common if you sleep with your mouth open. However, it is essential to note that these spots are distinct from those created by sweat.

You’ll notice that the drool stains are more distinct if you examine them closely. They also have the appearance of little clouds, and their color gradually fades to white over time. Drool stains might turn yellow in some circumstances.

Even for persons who sleep very soundly, the entire pillow will likely develop a darker shade of brown in the first week.

Drooling can be reduced in a variety of ways. Drooling can be caused by various factors, one of which is sleeping on your side. Even if you sleep with your mouth wide, it’s recommended to sleep with your back to the ceiling and upwards to avoid any run-off.

There are several ways to keep your mouth closed while you sleep, and you should know about them.

It’s a good idea to see a sleep professional and discuss your sleeping habits. To help you sleep better, they can prescribe medication or advise you on what you can do to improve your sleep quality.

Wet Hair After a Shower

In addition, wet hair on a pillow is likely to cause a stain. Taking a shower before bed is a good habit, but make sure your hair and scalp are dehydrated before you do so.

When you sleep, a wet head of hair increases your risk of catching a cold and causing spots on the bed. When it comes to saliva, it’s the same thing. Because of the dampness, the pillowcase will be permanently stained.

You can avoid this issue by using a professional hair dryer to dry your hair. Said, it’s an easy technique to ensure that your hair is entirely dry before you get into bed at night.

Also Read: How to Get Blood out of Pillow (5 Ways)

Beauty Products and Makeup

Even if rinsed off shortly before bed, makeup and other beauty items can leave a yellow or brown color on pillows over time.

Before you hit the hay, double-check that you’ve removed all your makeup and other cosmetics.

If you don’t wash your face for a few minutes, your pillow will turn a light brown hue because of your makeup, powder, or even mascara.

These amazing makeup removers on Amazon can assist you in cleansing if you’re seeking makeup removers or anything else to help clean your face. Leaving a note or a reminder may be helpful if you’re prone to forgetting to remove your makeup after a night out.

If you value your pillow and don’t want it to become discolored in the future, then the answer is up to you.

The Cleaning Product Breaks Down

Your pillowcases will turn yellow over time, just like all other textiles. Most detergents contain optical brighteners, which are meant to bring back the bright white hue you remember from when you first used the detergent.

However, the product will degrade over time due to use, exposure to light, and washing. The optical brightener is also incorporated into the fabric’s color, eventually fading. A result of this will be that the pillow cover will gradually return to its natural white color.

In addition, you should be aware that optical brighteners don’t degrade after use. Abrasive cleansers and low-quality cleaning supplies can speed up the process of the brighteners breaking down, but it still takes a long time.

Frequent Use

Because it is composed of cotton, it will naturally lose its color over time, just like a t-shirt. Pillows are no exception. Even if you choose high-quality pillows, there’s a strong chance the fabric may fade from its original bright white hue over time.

No matter how often the product is used, it will eventually become discolored. Using a t-shirt as an example, you may prolong the usefulness of a garment by taking care of it properly. However, it will fade in color over time and become less functional.

Why Do My Pillows Turn Yellow?

All people will sweat as they sleep, even if they don’t know it, especially if it’s a cold night. Sweat is caused by the prolonged contact of your head and face with the pillow’s surface. There is no way to prevent this from dripping from above and into the pillow below.

Aside from sweating, other sources of moisture, such as drooling or wet hair at night, can also contribute to the yellow staining. Pillow discoloration can also be caused by using hair products, cosmetics, and other skin products.

This process can be accelerated if you go to bed after using skin treatments like skin cream, which can cause yellowing in the long run.

How to Clean the Pillows

Having yellow pillowcases isn’t the end of the world, as you should know. Various techniques are available to enhance the color and restore the pillowcases’ original look. Here’s a quick tutorial to help you clean your pillows correctly.

Check the Care Tags

Before you put anything in the washing machine, you should always check the care labels. You should consult the care label on your pillowcases to determine the appropriate washing and maintenance procedures.

A handful can only be cleaned with spot or dry cleaning, even if most of the pillow covers available on the market may be washed in a standard machine.

Because most consumers don’t want to deal with dry or spot cleaning, manufacturers’ instructions aren’t necessary. You should run a suitable detergent through your washing machine to clean them.

Avoid putting colored textiles inside the whites if you want to keep things simple.

Spot Treating the Stains

It is possible to employ a variety of fabric cleaners to remove various types of stains from various fabrics. Drool, sweat, damp hair, and skincare products are the most common causes of pillow stains. It’s simple to erase all of these blemishes.

When purchasing a spot cleaner, you have a wide range of choices. Look for the ones mainly intended to be used with white pillow coverings at your local retailer.

For colored cases, there are various options, so pick the one that works best for you. Spot-cleaning can be a good idea before putting the cushions in the washing machine.

Wash the Pillows Using Vinegar and Detergent

When it comes to effectively cleaning your pillows, a solution of vinegar and detergent can work wonders. The best technique to get rid of stubborn stains on pillows is to wash them with vinegar and detergent, which can be done effortlessly.

Baking soda is an option for some people who want to lessen the stain’s strength, but that should only be used on dry pillow coverings.

These are just a few of the many reasons why pillow coverings become yellow and what you can do about it. To ensure your pillow covers last as long as possible, follow the instructions carefully.


To whiten practically anything, you can use bleach. It’s best to exercise caution when applying it to your sheets because it’s a powerful chemical. To use bleach to whiten your sheets, put them in the washing machine and run them in a cold setting.

After that, add around 1/4 cup of bleach to the washer and let it finish the cycle as usual. Once the drum is complete, add the bleach.

Lemon Juice

Natural bleaching agent citric acid is found in lemons. Use 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice to help whiten your sheets while washing them. Then, proceed with the wash as usual.

Lemon juice is also an excellent way to eliminate any lingering smells from clothing. After washing, either let them air dry or use a dryer to speed up the drying process.

Baking Soda

In addition to baking soda, there are several more all-natural odor-neutralizers. It also has excellent whitening properties, and it’s safer to use than regular bleach.

Adding roughly a third cup of baking soda to your washing machine can brighten your linens in no time. Additionally, by adding baking soda during the wash cycle, your laundry detergent will be able to perform better.

How to Stop your Pillows turning Yellow

The only way to avoid yellow stains on your pillows is to prevent yourself from sweating excessively in bed. If you’re looking for the most effective solution, use a cushion protector to safeguard your pillow. These low-cost approaches offer an additional barrier between your pillow, sweat, oils, and moisture.

Because they can be cleaned with your other bedding each week, pillow protectors are low-maintenance. The recommendation is to keep a few on hand at all times.

If you sleep on damp hair, your pillow will become yellow over time, so avoid doing so at all costs. Remove your makeup and any heavy oil-based serums or creams before bed.

So, to summarize:

  • Protect your pillow with a high-quality protector.
  • Blow-dry your hair before bed.
  • Avoid goods that contain a lot of oil.
  • Take off your makeup before going to bed


However, yellow blotches on pillows can also be caused by cosmetics, hair care products, water (from wet hair), and drool. A major cause of yellow blotches on pillows is sweat and oils from your body, but drool, cosmetics, and hair products can all leave a stain on your pillow.

Covering your pillows with a water-resistant pillow protector and anti-allergenic is the most effective method for reducing the risk of stains. These will protect your pillow from dust mites and dampness, allowing it to live up to its full potential and saving you money throughout its lifetime.

Please read the instructions on the care tag before you wash your pillows or pillowcases (this includes washing them on the surface) since this will ensure that you don’t ruin them while washing them. Surface cleaning is included in this.

Also Read: How to Arrange Pillows on a Bed (11 Ways)

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Best Mattress Advisor Editorial Team

Our dedicated team of experts, with more than two years of experience in the bedding industry, is committed to helping you achieve your best sleep yet. From in-depth reviews to comprehensive guides, we cover almost every aspect of sleep products, including mattresses, pillows, bed frames, and accessories. Explore our website and discover why we're the go-to resource for all things sleep-related.

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Best Mattress Advisor Editorial Team

Our dedicated team of experts, with more than two years of experience in the bedding industry, is committed to helping you achieve your best sleep yet. From in-depth reviews to comprehensive guides, we cover almost every aspect of sleep products, including mattresses, pillows, bed frames, and accessories. Explore our website and discover why we're the go-to resource for all things sleep-related.

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