Why Is My Pillow Yellow? Understanding Discoloration and Solutions

Why Is My Pillow Yellow?

Your pillow may be yellow due to various reasons, most commonly caused by moisture such as sweat, wet hair, drool, and natural body oils.

Additionally, the use of lotions, face creams, and beauty products before bed can transfer onto pillows and cause yellowing.

To prevent yellowing, it is advisable to put on skincare products and lotions at least an hour before bed to reduce moisture absorption.

Stained or worn-out pillows should be replaced, and for removing stains, refer to the care instructions on the pillow.

Regularly washing pillows every four to six months, using appropriate washing methods for the pillow material, and using pillow protectors can help prevent staining and yellowing.

It is recommended to replace pillows every one to two years or sooner if signs of wear are evident.

Yellow pillows are safe to sleep on, but they should be replaced if they show significant wear or turn mostly yellow or brown.

Key Points:

  • Yellowing of pillows can occur due to moisture from sweat, wet hair, drool, and natural body oils.
  • Lotions, face creams, and beauty products can also transfer onto pillows and cause yellowing.
  • To prevent yellowing, skincare products and lotions should be applied at least an hour before bed to reduce moisture absorption.
  • Stained or worn-out pillows should be replaced, and care instructions should be followed for removing stains.
  • Regularly washing pillows every four to six months and using appropriate washing methods and pillow protectors can prevent staining and yellowing.
  • Pillows should be replaced every one to two years, or sooner if signs of wear are evident.

Did You Know?

1. The yellow color of pillows can be caused by a variety of factors, one of which is the natural accumulation of oils and sweat from our body as we sleep.
2. Pillows can turn yellow due to exposure to sunlight, as the ultraviolet (UV) rays can break down the fibers and cause discoloration.
3. Another reason for yellowing pillows is the chemical reaction between natural oils present in our skin and certain laundry detergents or fabric softeners.
4. Interestingly, yellowing can also occur as a result of a specific type of fungal growth known as yellow mold. This mold can thrive in damp environments, making pillows a potential breeding ground.
5. On a positive note, if your pillow has turned yellow, it does not necessarily mean that it is unclean or unsafe to use. Regularly washing pillowcases, using hypoallergenic pillow protectors, and periodically replacing old pillows can help maintain their cleanliness and prevent discoloration.

Causes Of Pillow Yellowing: Moisture And Body Oils

Pillows play a crucial role in our sleep routine, offering comfort and support throughout the night. However, it’s common for pillows to develop a yellow hue over time. This yellowing is primarily caused by the accumulation of moisture and body oils.

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While we sleep, our bodies naturally release moisture through sweat, which can penetrate the pillow fabric. Moreover, wet hair, drool, and the oils produced by our skin also contribute to the yellowing process. As these substances build up, they create unsightly stains on the pillow surface.

To maintain the cleanliness and longevity of your pillows, it’s important to address the yellowing issue. Consider the following tips:

  • Regular washing: Washing your pillows every 3-6 months can help remove accumulated body oils and sweat. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for washing and drying.
  • Pillow protectors: Using pillow protectors can act as a barrier between your pillow and moisture. These protective covers are easily washable and can help prevent yellowing.
  • Sunlight exposure: Allowing your pillows to get some sunlight can help remove moisture and freshen them up. Just make sure to avoid direct sunlight for prolonged periods to prevent damage.
  • Spot cleaning: If you notice yellow stains, spot cleaning with a mild detergent or stain remover can help remove them. Remember to test the product on an inconspicuous area of the pillow first to avoid any potential damage.
  • Pillow rotation: Regularly rotating and flipping your pillows can distribute the wear and tear evenly. This can also reduce the chances of yellowing in a specific area.

In conclusion, yellowing pillows are a result of the accumulation of moisture and body oils. By following these tips, you can help restore the pristine white appearance of your pillows and ensure a clean and comfortable sleep experience.

“Over time, these substances build up and create stains on the surface of the pillow.”

Effects Of Wet Hair On Pillows: Yellowing Over Time

Sleeping with wet hair may seem harmless, but it can have negative effects on the color of your pillows. Wet hair contains natural oils that can transfer onto the pillowcase and, over time, cause yellowing. This is particularly true if you frequently go to bed with damp hair.

To minimize the impact of wet hair on your pillows, try towel-drying your hair thoroughly before getting into bed. If time allows, you can also consider blow-drying your hair to ensure it is completely dry. Taking these precautions can help reduce the amount of moisture and oils that come into contact with your pillows, ultimately preventing yellowing.

Skincare Products And Yellowing: Precautions Before Bed

Many of us have a nighttime skincare routine that involves applying lotions, face creams, and other beauty products. While these products can work wonders for our skin, they can also contribute to the yellowing of our pillows if not used correctly.

To avoid staining your pillows, here are a few tips:

  1. Apply skincare products and lotions at least an hour before going to bed. This allows the products to fully absorb into your skin, minimizing the likelihood of transferring onto your pillow.

  2. Consider using a pillow protector. A pillow protector acts as a barrier, preventing the products from reaching the pillow itself. It can help to keep your pillow clean and extend its lifespan.

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By following these simple steps, you can enjoy the benefits of your skincare routine without worrying about damaging your pillows.


  • Apply skincare products an hour before bed
  • Use a pillow protector as a barrier

“Take care of your skin without compromising the cleanliness of your pillows.”

Maintaining And Cleaning Stained Pillows

If your pillows have already succumbed to the yellowing phenomenon, there are ways to clean and restore them. Before attempting any cleaning methods, check the care instructions provided by the manufacturer, as different pillows require different care.

For spot cleaning, use a damp cloth and mild detergent to gently scrub the stained areas. Alternatively, you can sprinkle baking soda onto the stained spots and let it sit for a few hours before vacuuming it off. These methods can help remove minor stains and freshen up the appearance of your pillows.

Some pillows can be machine-washed to remove more stubborn stains. Ensure you use mild detergent and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. In some cases, adding bleach or white vinegar can aid in stain removal. To prevent clumping during the drying process, consider adding dryer balls or tennis balls to the dryer.

However, not all pillows can be machine-washed. Pillows made from memory foam or natural latex should be spot-cleaned only and left to air-dry. Using a pillow protector can also help prevent stains and extend the lifespan of your pillows.

Regular Pillow Washing And Replacement

To maintain cleanliness and comfort, it is crucial to wash your pillows regularly. Experts recommend washing your pillows every four to six months. However, the frequency may vary depending on personal preference and how quickly your pillows become soiled.

When washing your pillows, consider the material they are made from. Different materials require specific washing methods to maintain their integrity. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to ensure you’re washing your pillows correctly.

Regardless of washing, pillows should be replaced every one to two years, or sooner if they show signs of wear. Yellow pillows are generally safe to sleep on, but if they display significant discoloration or become mostly yellow or brown, it may be time to invest in new ones. Sleeping on worn-out pillows can impact comfort and proper spinal alignment, leading to aches and pains.

In conclusion, yellowing pillows are primarily caused by moisture, including sweat, wet hair, drool, and natural body oils. To prevent yellowing, ensure your hair is dry before going to bed, apply skincare products at least an hour before sleep, and consider using pillow protectors. If your pillows do become stained, spot cleaning or washing them, following the manufacturer’s instructions, can help restore their appearance. Regular pillow washing is essential for hygiene and comfort, but ultimately, pillows should be replaced every one to two years or as needed. By understanding the causes and taking proper care of our pillows, we can ensure a cleaner, more comfortable sleep experience.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Should I throw away yellow pillows?

Yes, it may be time to consider throwing away yellow pillows. Over time, pillows collect dirt, sweat, oils, and dead skin cells, which can lead to discoloration and the formation of yellow or brown patches. These unsightly stains are indicators that your pillow is no longer at its best and may not be providing the necessary support and comfort for a good night’s sleep. To ensure a hygienic and refreshing sleep environment, it’s advisable to invest in a new pillow from our best pillows guide, which can direct you to the current top options in the market. Resting your head on a fresh and clean pillow can contribute to a more rejuvenating sleep experience.

What causes yellow pillows?

Pillows may develop a yellow hue due to various factors, with sweat being the primary culprit. However, it is not solely sweat that causes the yellowing of pillows. Factors such as falling asleep with wet hair, the presence of lotions and oils on the skin, and excess moisture can also contribute to this discoloration. When left unattended for extended periods, these moisture-infused elements create the ideal environment for yellowing to occur.

Why is my husband’s side of the bed yellow?

The yellow color on your husband’s side of the bed could be due to a combination of factors. One possibility is that his skin naturally produces more oil and perspiration, which can accumulate throughout the day and transfer onto the sheets during sleep. Encouraging him to shower right before bed each night may help reduce the buildup of these substances, potentially minimizing the discoloration of the sheets. Additionally, using linen sheets or fabrics designed to resist staining could be a practical solution for maintaining a cleaner and fresher appearance on his side of the bed.

Is it OK to sleep on a yellow pillow?

If your yellow pillow smells strange or seems moist, it is advisable to replace it. However, if it has a pleasant odor and provides comfort, it should be suitable for sleeping on until you are able to acquire a new one. Nonetheless, if your pillow has completely yellowed or acquired brown stains, it is likely an indication that it is time to invest in a replacement.

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