May 21


Why Pillows Turn Yellow: Keep Your Pillows White

By Robin Hatch

May 21, 2020

It’s natural for your pillow to start to turn yellow or have a yellow stain on it. The yellow color is typically found on the actual pillow, not on the pillowcase that covers the pillow. Why do pillows turn yellow?

Pillows turn yellow because of sweat, wet hair, drool, and makeup that stains the pillow. Infrequently pillow washing will cause the yellow stains to be permanent.

In this article, we’re going to break down what causes your pillow to turn yellow and how you can avoid discoloring.

Why Pillows Turn Yellow

As mentioned, some things are entirely out of our control as to why a pillowcase turns yellow. It’s widespread to find these yellow-outlined stains or patches on a pillow.


Sweat is the most common reason your pillowcase starts to turn yellow. Sweat is something that none of us can control, as our bodies regulate our body temperature by excreting sweat from our glands.

When our bodies sweat, salt and other minerals are in the sweat that pours out of our skin. The sweat is absorbed directly into our pillowcase and our actual pillow.

Over time, this will naturally cause discoloration in the pillow, which will make it turn yellow.

Naturally, bodies that sleep in warmer conditions will tend to sweat more. If you’re someone who has to sleep under the covers, especially in the summertime, there’s a good chance you’ll be sweaty in the summer.

We recommend you purchase a cheap fan or something simple that blows cool air on you not to sweat in your sleep.


This is another item on the list that we can’t control. Drool, or any saliva that comes out of the mouth, will be absorbed directly into the pillowcase and then into the actual pillow.

Drooling onto the pillow is usually caused by side sleepers who sleep with their mouth open. Drool can often accumulate and is the reason for large patches on the pillow.

These large patches will form if the person is a consistent drooler throughout the night.

Wet Hair After a Shower

Showering the night before, especially if you’re a girl, has tremendous value as you’re able to save a reasonable amount of time in the morning.

However, showering before bed often means that you’re going to bed with wet hair.

Like anything, if it becomes damp and then rubbed upon (rolling over or even placing the head down on the pillow), it will have natural wear and tear.

Also, having wet and any chemicals left in the hair (for those who don’t shower at night) causes discoloration and a yellow tint on the pillow.

Wet hair is also a common reason for product deterioration and wet stains that will spread on the actual pillow itself. If your hair gets greasy overnight, it will also discolor the pillow to a yellow tint.

Beauty Products & Make-Up

Beauty products, especially if they’re not washed off right before bed, can, over time, turn pillows a yellow or even a brown tint.

It’s essential to triple-check to ensure all the beauty products are washed off before placing your head on the pillow.

Cover-up, powder, and even mascara can turn a perfectly white pillow a faint brown color simply from not taking the 2-3 minutes to wash your face.

If you’re looking for any makeup removers or anything that can help clean your face a bit more, makeup removers found at local stores or on Amazon can help with the cleaning process.

If you’re someone that goes out every weekend and forgets to clean off your makeup when you get home, it might be beneficial to leave a note or some reminder to clear your face.

It all depends on how vital your pillow is to you and if you care about it being discolored in the future.

Frequent Use

As with any product made out of cotton (think t-shirts), it will naturally fade its color with frequent use. It’s no different for pillows.

There’s a good chance the fabric will start to turn a different color than the sparkling white when it was first bought for pillows that are cheaply made or just simply old from years of use.

There’s nothing you can necessarily do for product discoloration due to frequent use. As we used our t-shirt example, as long as it’s well kept, you’ll be able to preserve its life. However, it will eventually lose its color and use over time.

Best Pillows To Prevent Yellow Staining

If you’re looking for pillows that can help prevent odor and claim from reducing bacterial growth, we have found some pillows on Amazon that are affordable.

BioPEDIC Pillow

This two-pack of pillows is comfortable and claims to provide a 99% reduction in bacterial growth to protect from odors and stain growth.

Clean white Pillows

Standard with an all-natural cotton cover, this 100% cotton cover provides natural softness for all-night comfort.

Beckham Hotel Collection Bed Pillows

Our next option is the Beckham Hotel Collection Bed Pillows, which come in a two-pack. However, they are a bit more expensive than the BioPEDIC pillows.

We added these to our list because they are machine washable.

This is a great pillow used for side sleepers, as it helps support the neck with its technology.

If you’re a side sleeper, it might be worth the investment to buy this machine-washable pillow.


Due to factors out of your control, it’s essential to change the pillowcase frequently. Saliva, sweat, and makeup products are consistently pressed against the pillow, which is then pressed against your face time and time again.

If your pillow is washable, we recommend washing the pillow every single week to have a fresh face in the morning. If you are able to purchase a pillow protector, that can help too. Pillow protectors will keep the pillow whiter for a longer period of time.

Things out of our control, like sweat and saliva, happen to normal human beings, and sometimes there’s nothing we can do about it.

We’ve compiled a complete list of frequently asked bedroom questions for new and experienced homeowners.

Our team of experts answers these questions to help assist you through DIY projects and home repairs.

Robin Hatch

About the author

For over a decade, Robin has been a real estate agent, interior design specialist, and mother. Through her trials and tribulations, she wanted to create the perfect website to help you save money and make your home look beautiful.

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