Why Do Pillows Turn Yellow?

Pillows turning yellow is not an unusual phenomenon. So, do not panic if your pillow is turning yellow. Although it is strange to you, and you have probably discarded your pillow while questioning its color change. No worries, your pillow is not the first so, it’s nothing out of this world. Pillows turn yellow when they have too much contact with moisture of any type. We’ll get into the full details soon.

Do you know how sometimes you move your pillow from the bed to the couch to support yourself? How you often wake up drenched in sweat with your pillow moist-filled when it’s hot? Those accidental liquid spills on your pillow or other things you do which allow your pillow to come in contact with water? Those are the factors that turned your pillow yellow!

What causes a pillow to turn yellow?


Most pillows are made with feathers, cotton, or foam, which are majorly absorbing materials. Other than the fact that they are soft or firm to support and align the body when we sleep, they are also essential to relieving pressure. This means that many of us use it to protect our bodies from aches when we wake up.

As your pillow is majorly used to support your body when sleeping, it is always in contact with your body. As a result, when you sleep hot and your body produces sweat, the pillow absorbs it because it is positioned close to you. Contact with sweat is the leading cause of yellowing.

Other moisture

Other than sweat, moistures of different types also cause the pillow to turn yellow. One of them is the perspiration that is released when we breathe. In the process of breathing, the body loses water in minute amounts that we do not see. When sleeping, this water is absorbed by the pillow, another reason why it turns yellow.

Saliva released from your mouth when you drool is another one of that moisture that causes the pillow to turn yellow. Of course, the release is an unconscious activity; nonetheless, the pillow being absorptive takes it in.

Constantly washing your hair without drying it before you sleep could also cause your pillow to turn yellow. As you lie down, trinkets of water are released from your hair to be absorbed by your pillow.

Accidental water spill or juice spill on your pillow without drying can also cause the pillow to turn yellow.

Oils and lotion

Naturally, your body has oil glands that produce oil. They help hair to grow; therefore, naturally, they are found in different parts of the body. As you sleep or rest using a pillow, the pillow comes into contact with the oil-producing pores in your body to cause pillow yellowing.

Not to leave out the fact that you use creams and lotions on your body. Oils from body care routines bathe and wash eventually have contact with your pillow and could cause it to turn yellow.


Chemicals from makeup could also be one of the factors causing the yellowing of your pillow. When you go to bed without removing your makeup, you increase the chances of your pillow turning yellow.

Why the pillowcase and not the pillow turn yellow?

The pillowcase is the one in direct contact with all the moisture, oils, and lotions. So, why do pillows turn yellow and not pillowcase? The pillowcase is a clothing material that gives way quickly to moisture and oils. They do not hold these things as much as the pillowcase does. A pillow might show signs of contact with water and oil by staining dirty or giving off an offensive odor. The pillow, on the other hand, stains yellow and smells.

How to prevent your pillow from turning yellow

Wear a headdress or bonnet to bed.

Wearing a headdress or bonnet significantly reduces the chances of your pillow turning yellow. This is because it prevents oils from your hair and hair products from dripping to your pillow and staining it.

Dry your hair after washing

Leaving water in your hair to trickle off when you sleep is a bad idea if you are trying to protect your pillow. If you wash your hair before bed, ensure you blow dry it properly before going to bed. You could also sit for a while to air-dry it before going to bed.

Avoid spilling liquid

As much as possible, avoid spilling liquids on your pillow. Do not take water, juice, or any fluid near it. However, when an accidental spill occurs, wash and sun-dry your pillow properly before use.

Use pillow casing or pillow protector

The use of pillow casings or protectors is one of the ideal ways to protect your pillow. They are designed to help manage and control the rate at which your pillow comes into contact with chemicals, sweat, oil, and other moisture that causes yellowing.
They protect your pillow and give it a more firm feel without interrupting your pillow’s ability to help support and align your body. Note that pillow protectors are used together with the pillowcase.

Wash your face

Before going to bed, ensure you wash your face to get rid of dirt, clear your pores and reduce the chances of your face staining the pillow. If you wore makeup during the day, you should use a face wipe to remove it and other chemicals that may be found on your face.

Give your skincare products time to dry before bed

Do not apply face lotions, serum, and the likes the minute you are about to sleep. Apply and wait for a few minutes. This way, they dry a little, and your pillow does not have to suffer immediate contact.

Change your pillowcase regularly

Another of the best ways to reduce the chances of your pillow turning yellow is by changing your pillowcase regularly. Do not wait months or weeks before you change it, as it may further contaminate your pillow. You can change it when you wash and change your bedsheet.

How to wash a yellow pillow

The yellowing of a pillow is not permanent, so you do not have to discard your pillow when it turns yellow. There are ways to wash and whiten your yellow pillow so that it looks almost as good as new.

What you need
  1. Laundry detergent- 1 cup
  2. Dishwasher detergent- 1 cup
  3. Borax -1/2 Cup
  4. Bleach- ¼ cup
  5. Stain remover (optional)
  1. Most pillows are washable. However, be safety conscious by confirming if your pillow is washable. You can check the tag to confirm. If it is, then you are good to go!
  2. Remove all pillowcase and pillow protectors. Then use a stain remover to treat the stains first, if you have one. If you do not have a stain remover, you can move directly to soaking your pillow in hot water.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add the laundry detergent, the borax, and the dishwasher detergent. Stir this until all detergent dissolve. Soak the pillow in hot water for about an hour, together with the bleach. You can use your washing machine (if it has the soak option), a bucket, or your bathtub for the soaking.
  4. While protecting your hands, move the pillow such that the mixture submerges it. You can turn it over 30 minutes after soaking, so ensure complete saturation.
  5. After soaking, commence the cleaning process. Wash the pillows properly in the longest cycle possible. Rinse twice and then dry.
  6. When drying, you may add dyer balls or tennis balls to the dry. This will help tumble the pillow and protect them from being stuck to the sides of the dryer.


Are yellow pillows dangerous?

Yes, they expose you to many germs that have been gathered for months and may cause you to fall sick.

Is it normal for pillows to turn yellow?

Yes. Pillows turn yellow when they have too much contact with sweat and moisture.

Should you discard a yellow pillow?

No. You don’t have to discard it. You can simply wash it and whiten it.

Can you wash a memory foam pillow?

Yes, however, check to make sure that your memory foam pillow is washable. Some of them are not washable. When you do wash your memory foam pillow, ensure you give it time to dry properly before use.

Can pillow protectors prevent the yellowing of pillows?

Yes. However, they are not 100% effective. They only limit the chances of yellowing.

How do you get a yellow pillow to become white again?

You can whiten your yellow pillow by following the procedures listed above. All you need is a couple of detergents, bleach, and borax.


If you already have a yellow pillow, do not fret. You can always bleach it out to become white. However, keeping your pillow safe and limiting its chances of becoming yellow is still the safest bet. Keep your pillows clean and free from moisture, change your pillowcase regularly to protect yourself from germs and disease.