Whiten Yellowed Pillows Without Bleach

7 Materials
1 Hours

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’

whiten yellowed pillows without bleach
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.
whiten yellowed pillows without bleach

whiten yellowed pillows without bleach
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.
whiten yellowed pillows without bleach
whiten yellowed pillows without bleach
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).
whiten yellowed pillows without bleach
Here, I'm adding the vinegar...
whiten yellowed pillows without bleach
...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.
whiten yellowed pillows without bleach
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.
whiten yellowed pillows without bleach
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.
whiten yellowed pillows without bleach
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.
whiten yellowed pillows without bleach
*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.
whiten yellowed pillows without bleach
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 38 questions
  • Paul Baldassari
    on Feb 2, 2018

    I have 2 MY PILLOWS.com pillows. It doesn't says to only wash in cold water or warm and I don't know what would happen if I used peroxide and essential oils. Can I do all what you said?

    • Michelle Faulkner
      on Jun 24, 2018

      I wash “my pillows” all the time in hot water and with white vinegar and baking soda and they’re just fine. It’s just foam on the inside. Hasn’t hurt mine at all.. hope this helps.

  • Donna Drake Farmer
    on Feb 11, 2018

    I have a front loader machine. How do I apply this great help to it?

    • Joan Kenney
      on Feb 12, 2018

      Do the 30 minute soak in a large container. Transfer the soaked pillow to the front loader, then pour or ladle your soak water in.

      I find that my older front loader has a really vigorous wash and spin action. My pillows with polyester batting need to be safety-pinned in about 6 places (4 corners and two in middle of long sides)to keep the batting from shifting into a tangled ball of stuffing inside the case. Be sure to go through the filling and include as large a section of cover material on both sides as your pin allows to avoid tearing a hole in the cover when the pins are stressed. Or you can sew temporary knots or large basting stitches through the covers and batting using embroidery floss or thick thread to hold the filling in place. Keep the pins/stitching in place when drying. Remove pins/stitching and fluff by hand when dry.

  • Felicia C Holder
    on Jul 11, 2018

    I have a question regarding the vinegar. (*I am NOT being mean or snarky, I promise! ☺️ I am genially curious.) I’ve always thought & I’ve read/heard that vinegar is used as a rinse in washing machines, replacing Downy, Snuggles, etc. Would it, or could it lessen the ability of the detergent? Also, I do realize vinegar can be used to clean & mop.

    **Also, regarding your washer not having a hot setting, could you soak it in a rubber tub w/ boiling hot water & this stain remover added before you wash it? I remember when my kids were babies, I’d boil water to soak their white clothes & onsies in. 😊. Babies + white clothing =‘s DISASTER!! LOL

Join the conversation

2 of 95 comments
  • Lesley Kidney
    on Apr 30, 2018

    Vinegar leaves no smell once dried, so there is no need to add essential oils to the process. The smell from the washing liquid/powder will still be present.

  • Amy Farmer
    on Jun 20, 2018

    I've always used tennis balls when drying my comforters and pillows. (Since I lost my wool dryer balls) I love the sock and essential oil tip. I will definitely be trying that! Thank you!

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