How To Wash and Whiten Yellowed Pillows {Best of Jillee}

Whiten Yellowed Pillows

This was originally posted just 4 months ago on February 22, 2013, and has had (as of today) 1,396,958+ pageviews; 643,000+ Pins on Pinterest; and 935 Facebook Likes!

At first I hesitated doing this post because it teeters precariously close to over-sharing…but the more research I did, and the more I asked around, I realized that pillows that become yellow over time is a pretty common thing!

One of the most common reasons why pillows can turn yellow is sweat. Even when you’re sleeping your body continues to sweat to keep your body at a comfortable temperature. Depending on the type of fabric your pillowcase is made from, sweat can seep through the fabric. As the sweat dries, it can leave a yellow stain on the pillow. Even if you use pillow COVERS underneath your pillow CASES, the yellowing can still occur.

In the past when the yellowing got really bad, I would simply toss the pillow and buy a new one. But I hated doing that because the pillow was still perfectly good. Recently I came across an old article from Martha Stewart Living that suggested pillows should be WASHED at least twice a year. Wow. I hope I’m not the ONLY one who didn’t know that! I have washed an occasional pillow in the past but usually because something was spilled on it.

After I read Martha’s suggestion I decided to take it to heart and set out on a mission to systematically wash all the pillows in the house, and since I was going to the trouble…I decided to address the YELLOWING issue at the same time. I decided to give them the “Miracle Laundry Whitening Solution” treatment. You can CLICK HERE to read all about it, but basically it involves the following ingredients:

washing pillows

  • HOT HOT HOT water
  • 1 cup of laundry detergent
  • 1 cup powdered dishwasher detergent
  • 1 cup bleach (you could try “A Natural Bleach Alternative if you are opposed to chlorine bleach)
  • 1/2 cup borax

Not only did the whole pillow-washing process turn out to be much easier than I anticipated, it worked like a CHARM!  

Just look at these “BEFORE” and “AFTER” pictures! It’s almost like my poor pillows were just WAITING for me to rescue them! ;-)

washing pillows

WASHING {and whitening} your pillows:

  • Check the care label to confirm that your pillow (down or synthetic) can be machine washed – most can be.
  • Remove the pillow case and any pillow protector
  • Fill the washing machine about 1/3 full with HOT water (I even added a couple of pans full of boiling water).
  • Add all the ingredients in the Miracle Laundry Whitening Solution (or, if you’re just looking to wash your pillows, add your detergent now) then start the machine and allow it to agitate for a few minutes to makes sure all the detergent dissolves before adding the pillows.

washing pillows

  • Once the detergent is dissolved, add the pillow(s), and then allow the washer to fiil the rest of the way with HOT water. I washed two pillows at a time, which helped balance the load when it came time for the spin cycle.

washing pillows

  • Agitate the pillows for several minutes, then turn the pillows OVER to allow the top side to get the full effect of agitating in the HOT water. Agitate for several minutes more.

washing pillows

  • Put your machine on the 2nd rinse cycle or just run it through twice manually.


DRYING your pillows:

  • For down and feathers, use the air cycle. For synthetics, use the low heat setting.

washing pillows

  • Place the pillow(s) in the dryer, add a couple of tennis balls covered in clean socks or a few Homemade Dryer Balls to help FLUFF the pillows as they tumble dry. (If it’s a nice day you could also set them outside in the sun to dry!)

washing pillows


Now isn’t that just about a thousand times better!?!? :-)  


Whiten Yellowed Pillows 2

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    • Cathy W says

      Laura, This can be used in front loader (as well as top loader! It has as no suds. Add to your front loader along with laundry. Don’t use the dispenser. Works amazing. I was shocked at how much dirt was in my clothes! Good Luck!

      • MaryChery says

        Thanks Cathy!
        I was wondering if (how) i’d be able to use my front loader. I appreciate your comment!

        My pillows are spotty and some are very yellow… how’d that happen? lol

        I’ll be doing laundry again next week.. until then…

  1. Kelly says

    I love your solid laundry detergent with washing soda, baking soda, borax, fels naphtha, and oxy-clean. Works wonderfully! Sometimes I add the scenting crystals, sometimes not, but i always get a good clean!

  2. Megan says

    Tip # 1: don’t let the husband do the laundry! (Some exceptions;))

    #2 NEVER overfill. Might seem like you’re saving time and money, but eww! Those clothes will not be clean.

    #3 if you feel the need to always do a 2nd rinse you are using way too much detergent or not following #2.

    #4 Pretreat! Those grease stains will not just magically come out!