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 learn how to wash pillows 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.

If you are looking for more laundry tips then read this helpful guide on How to Whiten Laundry Without Bleach!

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Frequently asked questions
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3 of 51 questions
  • Phi34493934 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 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?

  • Robin Nichols Austin Robin Nichols Austin on Oct 26, 2020

    What if you have a front loader

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  • LYNNE JONES LYNNE JONES on Nov 03, 2023

    Vinegar cuts the soap… so just use your detergent and peroxide in the wash and vinegar in the rinse (I put it in the softener dispenser to remove any soap residue. No, it doesn't leave a vinegar smell. If you're concerned, just do a second rinse cycle.

  • Faye Faye on Nov 28, 2023

    It is recommended to always wash 2 pillows at once in a washer. 'An unbalanced load can occur when there is too much on one side of the washer drum and not enough on the other. To keep the load balanced, wash at least two pillows at a time. Push them apart once you add them to the drum, so they fill the washing machine as much as possible.'