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This Is Why Your Pillow Cases Turn Yellow

  • Zak 
  • 6 min read
yellow pillow, why pillows turn yellow, pillowcases turning yellow

For a long time, I kept struggling to figure out why my pillows turned yellow. Rather than invest in new pillow cases and sheets, I decided to do some troubleshooting. I’m glad I did because I was able to figure out the reason.

In my case, it boiled down to using the wrong detergent coupled with my night sweats caused by frequent nightmares (that’s a story for another day).

I had the mindset that stronger was better. But, when it comes to delicate fabrics, gentle detergents are superior for longevity.

I had a spare set of pillow cases, so I experimented with a gentler detergent. After a few months of use, I noticed a huge difference. They still appeared undamaged and without any discoloration whatsoever.

Now that I had a gentler detergent, I also experimented by washing my pillowcases twice a week (on Sunday and Wednesday).

Even with my night sweats, my pillow cases did not turn yellow, and they still haven’t. I’m approaching a year, and they still look good. The featured image above is a photo I captured this morning that is unedited to illustrate how these pillow cases are still white.

Anyway, let’s quickly get into the full list of reasons why your pillow cases turn yellow.

5 Reasons Why Pillows Turn Yellow

1. Harsh chemicals

Even some of the most processed materials used for pillows are susceptible to damage from undiluted or harsh chemicals.

Bleach, peroxide, and other types of cleaning chemicals have the propensity to damage the fibers in materials.

It may temporarily whiten and clean the pillowcases, but they will become greatly more susceptible to discoloration when used.

Ironically, it’s not just chemicals from cleaning agents that may damage pillows. Skincare and haircare products applied to your face and head may rub off onto the pillows and cause yellowing and damage over time.

2. Infrequent cleaning

When cleaning, I find it surprising how many of us overlook pillowcases.

They need to be washed regularly to remain clean.

Not only does infrequent cleaning of pillows result in yellowing, but it also becomes a breeding ground for bacteria.

This could cause or aggravate skin conditions like acne.

3. Sweat and body oils

Sweat and body oils that get absorbed on a frequent basis and are not properly cleaned on a regular basis can turn pillows yellow.

This is a common problem during the summer months.

If you suffer from night sweats like I did, it’s always a good idea to consult a healthcare professional or take precautions when sleeping at night.

4. Excessive sunlight exposure

UV rays are not just damaging to the skin; they can have a similar effect on materials.

A common effect of excessive sunlight exposure is yellowing or discoloration.

It has been reported to break down chemical bonds and cause certain things to fade. This is why unrestricted sunlight can turn pillows yellow.

Check out this article by beanbagsrus on how to stop fabric from fading in the sun.

5. Aging

Wear and tear over time is a normal cause of discoloration, weakening, and damage to most material products.

Both pillowcases and pillows are said to offer an average lifespan of two years.

If your pillows are older than that, it’s possible that an accumulation of damage from all the reasons above has worn them out.

How To Prevent Pillows From Turning Yellow

You may not be able to permanently prevent discoloration, but you can prolong the longevity of your pillows with the following tips:

1. Use pillow protectors

A pillow protector is a sleeve that goes underneath your pillow case to protect the pillow from absorbing sweat and body oils.

It doesn’t do much to protect a pillowcase from turning yellow, but it certainly prevents the pillow from discoloring.

Check out this best-selling set of four pillow protectors by Utopia on Amazon by clicking here.

2. Switch between different pillows

Overexposure to chemicals, sweat, and body oils will eventually discolor pillows.

A simple way to mitigate this issue is by switching between pillows every couple of days. I prefer to swap pillows every 3 days, and I’ve noted a significant improvement in how long my pillows remain clean.

3. Wash pillowcases weekly

Clean pillow cases are always going to protect pillows and your skin from unnecessary exposure to bed bugs and bacteria.

By washing pillowcases weekly, I’ve been able to maintain a clean and sanitary bed. As someone who has suffered from acne, I can’t begin to tell you how important this is.

Use a mild and gentle detergent that is designed for materials to get the best results with the least damage over time.

4. Avoid direct sunlight

Since we learned that UV rays from sunlight have the propensity to damage and discolor pillows, it’s important that we mitigate this by fluffing and rotating them whenever we get a chance.

Then, we should try to inhibit the amount of direct sunlight that enters the room with blinds or sheer curtains, or we could use a throw to cover the pillows during certain hours of the day.

Final Thoughts

I’m pretty certain that if you were to take the precautions and advice in this article, you should be able to prevent your pillows from turning yellow for a significant period of time.

Generally speaking, the preservation of material-based items boils down to an effective and regular cleaning routine.

Once you get that locked in, you should slow down degradation and discoloration for a long time.

With that being said, I hope you found this article on why your pillows turn yellow helpful and informative. Before you leave, be sure to check out some of my other cleaning articles that are linked below.

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