Why Do Pillows Turn Yellow?

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However, have you ever noticed that, over time, pillows tend to turn yellow? This discoloration can be unsightly and raise questions about the cleanliness and hygiene of our bedding. 

This article delves deep into why pillows turn yellow and explores practical ways to prevent and tackle this common issue. So, grab your favorite pillow, and let’s embark on a journey to uncover the secrets of yellowed pillows!

Factors That Cause Pillows to Turn Yellow

Several factors come into play regarding the question, “Why do pillows turn yellow?”. Let’s take a closer look at the primary reasons behind this phenomenon:

Natural Body Oils and Sweat

Our bodies naturally produce oils and sweat; while we sleep, these substances can transfer onto our pillows. Over time, natural body oils and sweat accumulation can penetrate the pillow fabric, leading to discoloration. The yellowing process is often intensified if we neglect to wash our pillows regularly.

Dust Mites and Allergens

Dust mites, microscopic creatures that thrive in warm and humid environments, are common in our homes. These tiny arachnids feed on dead skin cells and can reside in our pillows. 

As dust mites multiply, they leave behind waste materials that contain enzymes capable of discoloring fabric, leading to yellowed pillows.

Age and Wear

Just like anything else, pillows undergo wear and tear over time. As they age, the materials within the pillow can break down, causing the fabric to become discolored. 

This discoloration can be more apparent in pillows that lack protective covers or are exposed to excessive sunlight.

Environmental Factors

Our surrounding environment can also contribute to the yellowing of pillows. Factors such as air quality, humidity levels, and exposure to smoke or pollutants can accelerate discoloration.

Additionally, if you live in an area with hard water, mineral deposits from the water can accumulate in the fabric, leading to yellow stains.

Improper Washing and Drying Techniques

How we wash and dry our pillows can significantly impact their appearance and longevity. Using harsh detergents, high heat settings, or inadequate rinsing can cause the fabric to deteriorate and turn yellow. 

Similarly, insufficient drying or drying on low heat can create a damp environment that promotes the growth of mold and mildew, leading to discoloration.

Stains and Spills

Accidents happen, and spills or stains on pillows are not uncommon. Whether it’s a late-night snack in bed or a mishap with a beverage, these incidents can leave behind unsightly marks that contribute to yellowing.

Tips and Tricks for Maintaining Pristine Pillows

Yellowed pillows can be unappealing and may raise concerns about cleanliness and hygiene. It’s essential to take preventive measures to keep your pillows looking fresh and vibrant. This section will explore practical tips and tricks for preventing pillows from turning yellow.

Use Pillow Protectors

Pillow protectors are a barrier between your pillow and external factors contributing to yellowing, such as sweat, body oils, and allergens. These protectors are typically removable and washable, making it easier to maintain the cleanliness of your pillows. 

Wash Your Pillows Regularly

Regular washing is crucial to keep your pillows clean and prevent the accumulation of sweat, oils, and dust mites that can lead to yellowing. While the frequency of washing depends on various factors, such as personal preference and allergies, a general guideline is to wash pillows every 3 to 6 months.

Rotate and Fluff Your Pillows

Regularly rotating and fluffing your pillows helps distribute the wear and tear evenly. This prevents excessive flattening and ensures the pillow retains its shape and loftiness. Doing so reduces the chances of specific areas becoming more prone to yellowing.

Maintain Good Personal Hygiene

One of the primary reasons pillows turn yellow is the accumulation of body oils and sweat. Maintaining good personal hygiene can help minimize the transfer of these substances onto your pillows.

By implementing these preventive measures, you can maintain the freshness and cleanliness of your pillows, reducing the chances of yellowing and ensuring a comfortable and hygienic sleep environment.


Are Yellowed Pillows a Sign of Poor Hygiene?

Yellowed pillows are not necessarily indicative of poor hygiene. While they can result from accumulated sweat, oils, or stains, regular cleaning and maintenance can prevent or minimize yellowing. 

How Often Should I Wash My Pillows?

Generally, it is recommended to wash pillows every 3 to 6 months. 

Can Sunlight Help Remove Yellow Stains From Pillows?

Sunlight can have a bleaching effect on fabrics, which may help reduce the visibility of yellow stains. However, prolonged exposure to sunlight can also cause damage and weaken the fabric fibers.

Are There Specific Pillow Types Less Prone to Yellowing?

Some pillow types, such as memory foam or latex pillows, may be less prone to yellowing compared to traditional feather or down pillows.


The mystery behind why pillows turn yellow has now been unveiled. From natural body oils and sweat to dust mites, age, environmental factors, improper washing techniques, and stains, there are various reasons why our special pillows lose their pristine appearance. However, armed with this knowledge, we can take proactive steps to prevent and tackle yellowing.

Regular washing and drying, using pillow protectors, maintaining good personal hygiene, and addressing spills and stains promptly are vital strategies to keep pillows looking fresh and clean. Remember, a little effort goes a long way in ensuring a cozy and hygienic sleep environment.

So, the next time you wonder, “Why do pillows turn yellow?” you’ll know how to combat this common issue. Sleep tight, knowing your pillows are in their best condition!

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