White pillowcases are incredibly hard to maintain and clean. If you have been sleeping on a white pillow for a while, you might have noticed that it begins to turn yellow after a while.
The pillows you keep in your bedroom will actually play an important role in the overall aesthetic of the place, and nobody likes walking into a room with stained pillows.
Some might think that their pillows look yellow, while others may think that they look brown. However, one thing that everyone can agree on is that after a few days of use, your pillows will not be the same crystal white color that you originally bought them.
So, what gives? It doesn’t make sense when you think about it; your head is not yellow, nor is there any kind of product on it when you lay down to sleep. So, exactly what makes these pillows yellow?
Many people are interested in knowing the answer to this question because it is such a widespread problem. However, you should know that there isn’t a definitive answer to this. There are several factors that eventually contribute to this problem.
It is also important to know that replacing the pillowcases after every few months is a wise idea. While you should clean the pillowcases, wash them, and change them at least once in the week, it is also recommended that you completely discard the old ones after a few months.
Over time, the pillow covers will begin to fade as well, so you should definitely consider replacing them. But, let’s talk about the various reasons why the pillows tend to turn yellow, and what you can do about it.
Furthermore, we will also talk about the different ways to clean the pillow covers too.
The Reasons Why Pillows Turn Yellow
Here are the most common reasons why your pillows turn yellow.
1 – Sweat
Sweat is perhaps one of the most common reasons why the pillows are likely to turn yellow. Obviously, many people are likely to contest this, saying that they do not sweat in their sleep. However, we are not talking about sweating profusely, like during sports or athletics.
Mild sweat during the night time is quite natural, because your body is just trying to regulate the temperature inside. You might not realize it, but when your head is in contact with the pillow, your scalp produces sweat, which automatically transfers to the pillow cover.
You are probably going to spend your entire night with your head or your face on the pillow. The oils from your skin and the sweat are all going to come into contact with the sharp white pillow cover.
These fluids are released from tiny pores in your skin, and also include sebum, and will eventually work their way down to the pillow.
As the sweat dries overnight, it is eventually going to turn yellow. Obviously, this is a very slow process. The amount of sweat in the night is relatively low, so you don’t have to worry about looking at yellow stains in the morning whenever you put white covers on your pillows.
But, within a week or so, you will notice these stains. The yellowing is incredibly slow and some people don’t even notice it for months. If you have a colored pillow cover, identifying the stains is going to be virtually impossible for you.
Furthermore, you should know that it’s not exactly the sweat that causes the problem.
It is the urea that is found in sweat that actually causes the yellow stains. Urea is also the compound that gives sweat its salty flavor.
People who perspire or sweat profusely will notice their sweat becoming yellow much quicker. That’s because it won’t take long before the entire pillow is covered in sweat.
However, even though sweat is perhaps the most common reason why your pillow is likely to get stained, you should know that it’s not the only reason.
For some people, excessive sweating is a problem. If you find yourself sweating commonly throughout the day, even though the temperature is nominal and there isn’t a problem, you might want to consider going to a doctor for a checkup.
There are various reasons why people tend to sweat, and the doctor will complete their diagnosis before recommending any antiperspirant cream or anything else. There are several antiperspirant creams available in the market, and while you can apply them on your face, you should never try them on your hair.
It’s best to visit a doctor who can explain why this is happening, and what you can do about it. Furthermore, it might be a wise idea to turn up the air conditioning to make sure that you are comfortable when you go to sleep.
As long as you are comfortable in bed, you will be able to reduce the amount of sweating by a considerable margin.
2 – Drool
Most people don’t realize it, but drool is a common occurrence. Those who tend to drool while sleeping are likely to stain their pillow much quicker than others.
If you sleep with your mouth open, you are likely to drool as well. But, you should know that these stains are actually different when compared with the stains caused by sweat.
If you take a closer look at the stains left by the drool, you will realize that they are clearer. They look like small clouds as well, and over time, they tend to turn white. In some cases, the drool stains are likely to turn yellow.
For people who are chronic droolers and tend to sleep heavily, there is a strong chance that the entire pillow will turn a shade of brown within a week or so.
There are plenty of ways by which you can reduce your drooling. For instance, sleeping on your side is a common reason why people tend to drool. It’s best to sleep facing upward, on your back, as that’s going to prevent any kind of run-off, even when you sleep with your mouth wide open.
Furthermore, you should know that there are various techniques that you can try to keep your mouth shut while sleeping.
It’s recommended that you visit a sleep specialist and talk to them about your sleeping ways. They will be able to prescribe medication or give you advice on the steps that you need to take to make sure that you sleep the right way.
3 – Wet Hair
Putting a wet head of hair on the pillow is also likely to leave a stain. Even though it is a great habit to shower before you get to bed, you need to make sure that your head is completely dry before you do.
If you sleep with a wet head of hair, not only are you likely to catch a cold, but there are also likely to be stains on the bed.
It’s the same case as with drool. The moisture is simply going to transfer to the pillowcase, and will leave permanent marks.
The best way to avoid this problem is to make sure that you dry your hair using a professional hair dryer. It’s a simple way to ensure that your hair is completely dry before you plop down on the bed.
4 – Beauty Products
Sleeping with your face covered in makeup is always a bad idea. Never mind the impact that it leaves on your pillows, you need to understand that sleeping with beauty products on is going to have a terrible effect on your skin. It could cause an acne breakout and it can also lead to a myriad of other skin problems.
Many people have a habit of applying creams to their faces before going to sleep. Every person has their own nighttime beauty routine, with some opting for moisturizers while others prefer toners.
Regardless of whichever beauty product you like to use, it is important that you let it absorb into your skin thoroughly.
A good thing to do is to make sure that you apply the beauty product at least a half hour before you are likely to fall asleep. This way, you will be able to rub it on your skin properly and make sure that it is properly absorbed.
Remember just how the white bathroom sink turns into a shade of yellow when you are applying makeup?
It’s the same that happens to your pillows. You have to make sure that you properly absorb the moisturizer or toner before you decide to fall asleep.
5 – The Cleaning Product Breaks Down
Like all other fabrics, your pillowcases are also going to turn yellow after a while. For instance, optical brighteners that are added to most kinds of detergents are designed to restore that same crisp-white color that you were originally used to.
However, with the passage of time, the exposure to light and the washing is going to cause the product to break down. The optical brightener is also added to the coloring of the fabric, so with the passage of time, this is going to break down.
As a result, the pillow cover will begin to resort back to its natural, slightly lesser white, color.
You should also know that the optical brighteners do not break down almost immediately. It takes quite a bit of time for the brighteners to break completely, but if you are using abrasive detergents and low-quality cleaning materials, this process might speed up slightly.
How to Clean the Pillows
If you have yellow pillow cases, you should know that it’s not the end of the world. There are actually quite a few different ways by which you can improve the coloring and return the pillowcases back to its original state.
Here is just a brief guide to help you clean the pillows properly.
Check the Care Tags
You need to make a habit of checking the care tags before you decide to put anything in the laundry. It is recommended that you take the care tags on your pillow covers and figure out the best instructions for washing and caring for the pillowcases.
Even though most of the pillow covers that are available in the market can be washed in a conventional machine, there are a few that only require spot cleaning or dry cleaning.
Most people just don’t want to go through the hassle of dry cleaning or spot cleaning, so you can forego the instructions given by the manufacturer. It is recommended that you machine wash them using a decent detergent.
Just make sure that you only put the whites with whites, and avoid putting any colored fabrics inside!
Spot Treating the Stains
There are a bunch of fabric cleaners that can be used for spot treating different kinds of stains. As mentioned above, the stains on your pillows are generally caused by drool, sweat, wet hair, as well as beauty products. All of these stains are easy to remove.
There are plenty of different options available to you when it comes to buying a spot cleaner. Just go to your local store and see the ones that are designed primarily for white pillow covers.
There are others that are designed for colored cases too, so get whichever one you need. Before you chuck the covers in the washing machine, it might be a wise idea to try spot-cleaning.
Wash the Pillows Using Vinegar and Detergent
A mixture of vinegar and detergent could go a long way in cleaning your pillows properly. It is recommended that you wash the pillows carefully using vinegar and detergent, and this can easily help you get rid of stains that won’t go away otherwise.
Some people even prefer using baking soda to reduce the intensity of the stain, but that’s only suitable for dry pillow covers.
These are just some of the many things that you should know about why pillow covers tend to turn yellow, and what you can do about it. It’s important that you follow the steps to prolong the life of your pillow covers.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. As a homeowner, I love working on projects around the house, and as a father, I love investigating various ways to keep my family safe (whether or not this involves tech). I’ve also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it’s hard to find the time these days.