How to Remove Yellow Stains on Pillowcases

How to Remove Yellow Stains on Pillowcases

White bedding is a popular choice as it conveys a sense of luxury. It’s no coincidence that hotels opt for white linens over colours. Not only are they luxurious, they show guests that the facilities are clean. 

That said, white linens are notoriously unforgiving. Stains show up easily and they can get dingy and grubby if you don’t regularly whiten them. 

There is one inconvenience that all white linen owners deal with and that is yellow stains. Unfortunately, detergent alone won’t be able to remove these stains, specific treatments are recommended. In this article we’ll explain how to remove yellow stains from pillowcases. 

What Causes Yellow Stains on Pillowcases?

Yellow stains on pillowcases can be caused by oils from your hair and body, sweat and/or saliva. Since these substances have different compositions, different treatments may be needed to remove them. 

It’s a good idea to identify the cause of the stains to effectively eliminate them. But the good news is that treating yellow stains is easy, and you will likely already have all of the products on hand.

How to tell what’s causing your stains

If you generally shower before bed, hair and body oils may not be the culprit. However, if you shower in the morning, your hair and body produce sebum throughout the day and these can be transferred to your linens at night.

If you often wake up with damp sheets or clothing, sweat could be what’s staining your pillow. Check your clothes as well to see if you have yellow stains on the armpits or neckline of white items.

It may be more tricky to identify saliva as the cause, unless you know that you drool in your sleep. If you wake up with a dry mouth, or you suffer from sleep disorders that make you breathe through your mouth, saliva could be the cause. 


How to Remove Yellow Stains on Pillowcases

How to Remove Yellow Stains on Pillowcases

Now that you know what’s causing your yellowing pillowcases, you can follow one of the below methods to remove them.

Removing hair and body oil stains

  1. Apply around a tbsp of your normal shampoo directly to the stains. You can adapt the amount of shampoo if you have larger stains.
  2. Soak the pillowcase in warm water for around 10 minutes.
  3. Scrub the stain by rubbing the pillowcase together or using a soft brush such as a toothbrush. 
  4. When the stain seems to fade, put the pillowcase into the washing machine on a hot cycle. 

Removing sweat and saliva stains

  1. Add around 2 tbsps of washing up liquid directly to your load.
  2. Add your detergent as normal.
  3. Select a hot cycle and start the wash.
  4. Once all of the detergent has been mixed in, stop the cycle and leave the laundry to soak in the water for around an hour. 
  5. Re-start the cycle and let it run as normal.

Alternatively, you can apply the washing up liquid directly to the stain and let the pillowcase soak in warm water for around 5 minutes before washing it as usual. 

If the stains won’t budge, you can also try soaking the pillows in white vinegar. You can make up a mixture of half water, half vinegar, but it’s also safe to soak them in undiluted vinegar. Leave the pillowcases to soak for about 30 minutes and then wash as normal.


How to Whiten Yellowed Pillowcases

How to Whiten Yellowed Pillowcases

Now that you’ve finally removed the yellow stains from your pillowcase, you might be wondering how to brighten it up. Here are three ways you can restore some of the original whiteness to your pillowcases:

  • Bleach: Pop some laundry-safe bleach in your wash once the stains are completely removed. If you use bleach on stained items, it can make the discolouration worse.  
  • Dry pillowcases in the sun: Drying items in direct sunlight is not recommended for coloured items as it bleaches the colours. Since this is what we want, you can safely dry your white items out in the sun to brighten them up again. 
  • Bicarbonate of soda: Adding half a cup of bicarbonate of soda to a regular load of washing will help to brighten your whites.


How to Prevent Yellow Stains on your Pillowcase

How to Prevent Yellow Stains on Pillowcase

If you would rather avoid going through this cleaning routine regularly, there are some tips that can help prevent yellow stains on your linens:

  • Shower before bed to remove sebum from your hair and skin.
  • Use darker pillowcases when you have a cold as you may be more likely to sleep with your mouth open due to a blocked nose, and subsequently, drool in your sleep. 
  • Don’t use fabric softener when washing your whites as this may leave a waxy buildup on your pillowcases and encourage other substances to stick.
  • Use vinegar and/or bicarbonate of soda in your wash from time to time as these substances can lift stains when they are starting to form.