Chas' Crazy Creations
Chas' Crazy Creations
  • Hometalker
  • Fort Collins, CO

Cleaning Yellowing Pillows (and More)

8 Materials
2 Hours

I have cleaned my pillows in the past but my latest challenge was to not only clean them but also whiten them. Our pillows, pillow covers, and mattress pads turn yellow over time due to our body oils, sweat, etc. I tried a few different techniques and wanted to share my results.

cleaning yellowing pillows and more
So let's start with the disclaimer... I have washed and dried my pillows - and we all know drying sets stains in. So I knew going into this that I would have some challenges... These are our pillows and mine is a slightly off white to begin with. It's hard to see the yellowing stains here but I promise they are there and you'll see them more in the next few photos... In addition to this I also washed my pillow case covers to run the test as to how this would work with those and potentially with mattress pads.
cleaning yellowing pillows and more
First whenever you wash your pillows, it's best to do 2 at a time to create balance in your washing machine. (See how yellow they are - gross)
cleaning yellowing pillows and more
Settings - to get rid of stains like these you need to set your temperature to the hottest setting you have, fullest load, and then if you have a soak setting select that. If you don't have a soak, you'll need to fill up you washing machine with water and then stop it so that it can soak.
cleaning yellowing pillows and more
For my first run through I added 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide - this is a bleach alternative.
cleaning yellowing pillows and more
1/2 cup of vinegar - this is a natural cleaner, breaks down stains, and fabric softener.
cleaning yellowing pillows and more
And 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Lemon juice is also acidic so same qualities as vinegar, & added a nice lemon smell.
cleaning yellowing pillows and more
Let soak for 30 minutes, then flip the pillows to make sure you get both sides and soaked for 30 more minutes.

I realized that my washing machine is a fairly large one and I was not satisfied after the 30 minutes how things were going so I added another cup of hydrogen peroxide. Everyone's laundry tubs are a different size so take that into consideration. (So in the end I used 2 cups hydrogen peroxide, 1/2 cup vinegar, and 1/4 cup lemon juice.)
cleaning yellowing pillows and more
Add your laundry detergent of your choice and run your normal wash cycle.

cleaning yellowing pillows and more
Pull your pillows out and inspect them. If they are clean enough which mine were - put them in the dryer. If not you may need to start over and soak again or try an alternative method below.
cleaning yellowing pillows and more
I set my dryer to low, and it took about 30 minutes to dry my pillows.
cleaning yellowing pillows and more
Here is how they came out - and I was extremely pleased with the results.
cleaning yellowing pillows and more
What else did I try? (and why - this one is color safe)

Here is the next set of pillows and again they had been washed and dried before. I placed the pillows in the wash and added a mixture of 1 cup laundry detergent, 1 cup washing soda, 1 cup Borax, and 1 cup Castile soap. Soaked 30 minutes, flipped the pillows and soaked another 30 minutes, ran the wash cycle and here is how they came out...

cleaning yellowing pillows and more
Definitely made a difference but one pillow was still more yellow than I liked.

In the end these are great alternatives to bleach if you want to stay away from chemicals. It works on pillows, pillow covers, and mattress pads.

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 84 questions
  • Tammy Hewitt
    on Feb 6, 2019

    I have a front loaded washer . Could I still do this and if so how?

    • Janice Enix
      on Apr 1, 2019

      Using the front loading washer your pillows shouldn't bunch up & get lumpy like they do in a top load machine. I think they would even clean a little better.

  • Lde12480639
    on Feb 6, 2019

    Can this be done on feather pillows? Your pillow looked bumpy. Did drying smooth them out? Did you use a tennis ball when drying?

    • Melody Boling Medlock
      on Mar 1, 2019

      I have washed and dried my pillows numerous times over the years. From my experience you should always use tennis balls in a sock when drying. It makes a HUGE difference in how they come out of the dryer.

  • Leanne Watts
    on Mar 8, 2019

    What if you have one of those HGE washers that don't fill with water??

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