Why Do Pillows Turn Yellow?

When it comes to things we spend a lot of time on or in, then we all know that they should be at least a little clean. This can be anything from our homes to our clothes to our furniture.

But there is one area that has a peculiar little blind spot. Our bedding. 

Sure, we all wash our sheets and covers, but – and be honest here – how often have you washed your mattress or pillow? I will take a stab in the dark and say not often.

While it may not seem like it, it can be an issue, and it can lead to some strange sights when you give those sheets and covers a wash.

One of those sights is the pillow itself, which has probably gone from a beautiful white to a stained yellow.

So, why does this happen? And what can we do to prevent it? In this article, we will take a closer look at bedding and show you how to stop your pillows turning yellow. 

Reasons For Pillow Discoloration

Now before you start blaming yourself or thinking that your head must be particularly filthy, just remember that there are many things that can cause pillow discoloration, not just yourself. So, with that in mind, here is the list:


One thing that is certain about moisture is that it will always make something wetter. The same applies to pillows. If you have ever noticed that your pillows have become damp, then it’s likely that this is because your pillowcase has absorbed too much water.

When this happens, then it can leave behind stains on the pillow case as well as the inside of the pillow itself.

This is usually caused by the pillow cases being left out during rainy spells and the moisture of the rain evaporates near the pillow case, so if you live somewhere where it often rains, then you need to keep your pillows away from any kind of moisture. 

Moisture can also come from human sweat. Sweating during the night is normally either minimal, because of hot weather, or from a medical condition, so it doesn’t tend to happen all that regularly.

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, and even a minimal amount of sweat will bring the moisture that causes discoloration.

Skin And Hair Products

The next reason for pillow discoloration could be skin and hair products. These items are mostly used to moisturize and soften the skin or hair, and while they can work quite well, they can also go wrong when introduced to fabric.

When these products are applied directly onto the pillow cover through either skin to pillow contact or being accidentally rubbed onto the fabric, then they can easily soak through the material and into the pillow case.

As soon as they get soaked through, they can begin to dry up and form a residue that can stain the pillow.

The best way to avoid this is to use them sparingly and make sure that whatever product you are using is fully absorbed by your skin and hair after washing the pillow case first.

Sun Exposure

Sun Exposure

Sun exposure is another possible reason for pillow discoloration. It can occur when your pillow gets exposed to sunlight for an extended period of time.

A lot of people think that this only occurs when they sleep outside, under their car parasols or tent, but it can actually happen anywhere, indoors and outdoors.

The problem here is that although the pillow might appear to be fine, it isn’t really and the fabric can still be damaged and discolored.

You don’t want to find out later that the pillow was ruined due to sun damage, so it is important to protect your pillows from getting too much sun.

Although this may appear like an impossible task, all you really need to do to keep your pillow a beautiful cream white is to keep them out of direct sunlight. If you manage that, then you should have no concerns with sun exposure.


If you have been sleeping in your bed for a long time without changing the pillow case, then that could be the cause of the discoloration. Over time, the fibers in the pillowcase start to break down and change shape.

As they do this, then they absorb more liquid than they did before, and this can lead to staining and discoloration over time.

This problem is especially prevalent with synthetic materials such as polyester, nylon and acrylics. They are not naturally very strong, and this means that they will begin to lose strength and integrity over time.

So if you notice that there is a noticeable difference between how soft your old pillow was compared to the new one, then you know that your pillow case might need replacing.

This issue is somewhat easy to fix, but it does require some patience on your part. What you need to do is wash the pillow case thoroughly inside and out and allow it to air dry completely before putting it back on the pillow.

It’s true that you may have to wait a few days before noticing any differences, but once you do, it’s worth waiting for. After all, you’ll probably never get to see your pillow look like it did when you bought it again!

Why Do Pillows Turn Yellow?

How To Stop Your Pillow discoloring?

One thing that you can do to help prevent your pillow from turning yellow is to make sure that you’re cleaning your pillow cases regularly.

This is because every time you clean the pillow case, you remove any dirt, stains and other contaminants that were absorbed by the pillow case.

Also, you can try to replace the pillow case whenever you notice any signs of wear and tear. Even though they seem pretty sturdy, most pillow cases aren’t immune to the effects of time. Eventually, they just become too worn and stained for comfort.

A good alternative would be to buy a new pillow case. But even if you choose to keep using your current pillowcase, at least make sure that you clean it properly.

Otherwise, over time, it won’t be able to soak up moisture as well, and it will end up becoming saturated and discolored.

Another way to ensure that you’re preventing your pillow from turning yellow would be to use a cleaner specifically designed to work wonders on fabric.

There are many kinds of cleaners available today, including ones that contain bleach to kill bacteria, enzymes to fight against fungus growth and ones that contain natural ingredients to kill mold and mildew.

All these options are great ways to get rid of unwanted stains and odor, and they also come in handy when you want to add a bit of color to your home decor. The best option, however, is to use a combination of both.

Start with a cleaner that contains bleach and follow it up with a cleaner that is formulated to combat mold and mildew. By doing so, you should be able to eliminate any unsightly odors as well as a stain or two.

You don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money on this kind of treatment. In fact, you can find plenty of affordable options if you do a little research.

You can certainly find cleaners at your local drug store, supermarket or department store. Just make sure that you read the label carefully and select an appropriate product based on what you want to achieve.


Unfortunately, no matter what you do in life, your fabrics and bedding will eventually discolor. Everything in the known universe degrades over time, and this is especially true for items we use every day.

As such, the only way to stop this from happening is to take preventive steps from the start.  

About Darcy O

Loves good coffee, good design and a good nap on a good couch!

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