Whiten Yellowed Pillows Without Bleach

7 Materials
1 Hour

One thing that has always bugged me is how pillows tend to start yellowing over time. I always was slightly embarrassed when changing my sheets because I thought, “Ummmm I haven’t peed the bed since I was a small child, why in the world are my pillows yellow?! And they are in pillow cases!” After a little research, I discovered that all pillows yellow overtime because of body temperature (ya learn somethin’ new everyday, huh?!)—needless to say, I was very pleased to discover that it happens to everyone, not just me. Regardless, I usually buy new pillows every few years but some I just can’t part with (including this flat pillow that is the perfect fluff for Bo and his little head) so instead of being grossed out every time I changed his sheets, I decided to try washing the pillow as well in order to get the yellow out and it was surprisingly easy!

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Bo's pillow (which we've had for a while...even before he was born), was looking a bit yucky before but I didn't want to throw it out because it was just flat enough for him.

STEP 1: Soak pillow(s)
First, I started my washing machine by putting it on the hottest setting. You really want to use hot water for this cleaning project, however, I don’t have a “hot” setting so I put it on warm.

*I would really recommend using hot water because even though the majority of the yellowing came out of this pillow, I think the *hot* water would have made it all come out.
While the wash was filling up, I placed my yellowed pillow in and poured in 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide, ½ cup white vinegar, and approximately 2 tablespoons of liquid detergent (I used Arm&Hammer).
Here, I'm adding the vinegar...
...and finally the peroxide.
I made sure to swoosh the water around to mix all of the ingredients when I was submerging the pillow.
I let the water fill up until it stopped, then pushed the pillow down to where it was submerged in the water. I then let the pillow soak for about 30 minutes as I do not have a soak cycle on my machine. If you have a soak cycle, you can follow the step above and just program your machine to the soak cycle.
STEP 2: Rinse pillow(s)
After I let the pillow soak, I closed the lid to let it go through the regular wash cycle. Once it got to the rinse cycle, I added 4-5 drops of essential oils and closed the lid again to let the machine continue with it’s rinse cycle. After the entire wash/rinse cycle was finished, I put my machine back on the rinse cycle again to ensure that all of the detergent had washed out of the pillow.
STEP 3: Dry pillow(s)
To dry the pillow, I first added some essential oils to a few of my socks that no longer had mates.
Then, I placed a tennis ball in each sock and threw them in the dryer with the pillow. These tennis balls (or wool dryer balls if you have them) should fluff up the pillow(s). I’ve read that you can also lay your pillow(s) out flat to dry in the sun on on top of your dryer. Since it’s ridiculously cold and rainy outside here in NY, I opted to throw mine in the dryer.
*Note: Even though I added essential oils in the wash cycle, I wanted to ensure that even after the pillow was washed, it smelled more like essential oils and less like vinegar once it was dry and put on the bed.
I was really impressed with how clean this pillow got just by adding a few extra ingredients to my wash cycle! I’m sure Bo will be happy to have it back and smelling nice.

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 50 questions
  • Sheila
    on Apr 17, 2019

    I assumed this was not a feather pillow. If it were how would you clean if case is yellowed or stained?

    • 14029436
      on Apr 25, 2019

      I do as well. I was my feather pillows twice a year.

  • Phi34493934
    on Apr 17, 2019

    I'm sure this would work with du eys as well if you had a

    W machine

    big enough ?

  • Lainie
    on Apr 19, 2019

    Slightly frightened to use feather pillows in my washer. Can I take to the Laundromat and get the same results?

    • Meem Kaplan
      on Dec 29, 2019

      At $150/pair for down pillows, I wash mine! Never had any problems with it.

Join the conversation

3 of 135 comments
  • Richie Robin
    on May 28, 2019

    Not a Question but here were i live we throw out pillows in the wash each 6 months to a year and just wash them. They come out lovely and clean and either hang them out to dry on the line or in the dryer with no added things to them. Just a regular wash program. If we dry on the line just fluff up and turn it around a few times so it dries evenly then in the dryer for a few minutes to fluff it. Would never need to use these other products at all.

  • Aiokersonalicea1
    on Oct 2, 2019

    Instead of using a tennis ball could you possibly use those wool balls that were made to be in your dryer to dry all your clothes just do your pillows this time

    • Patti
      on Mar 2, 2020

      I keep 3 wool balls in my dryer at all times. About every 4 weeks I add a few drops of lavender oil...everything smells wonderful.

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