‘Avoid bleaching!’: ‘Correct’ way to remove ‘yellow stains’ from pillows without scrubbing

Lynsey Crombie shares how to check if you need new pillows

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There is a link between clean and crisp bedding and how it affects sleep. Having a clean bed, and clean sheets is important considering that most people spend an average of eight hours a night in bed. Many Britons will have gone to change their sheets and noticed marks – particularly yellow stains on pillows. Even the most thorough cleaners will have seen the unavoidable stains, but where do these stains come from? And how can you get rid of them?

Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Molly Freshwater, a bedroom and interiors expert at Secret Linen Store, noted that yellow stains on pillows are “supper common”.

She said: “Yellow stains on pillows are super common and are actually caused by chemicals in your sweat as you sleep. 

“As sweating is natural when you sleep, especially with warmer weather (and even in winter with thick duvets) keeping on top of your pillow’s hygiene with frequent and correct washing of pillows, as well as your bed sheets, can help prevent these yellow stains from occurring.”

The expert warned against using bleach to remove these stains to avoid further damage.

Molly said: “It’s important to avoid bleaching yellow stains, as it can actually cause more yellow staining due the chemicals in the bleach reacting with your sweat.”

Instead the expert suggested using oxygen bleach as a more “gentle” approach.

She said: “Oxygen bleach, dissolved in water, should be used as it can be gentler than regular breach, particularly for natural fabrics and materials. 

“It works by gently lifting the stain from the fabric. Soak your pillow in the solution overnight, and wash and dry the pillow as per its recommended washing instructions.”

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To “correctly” remove these stains, Molly advised pre-treating them which will only take 15 minutes.

She said: “Like with any stains, pre-treating them will stand more chance of correctly removing the stain completely from the pillow. 

“Soaking the affected area with a natural stain remover for 15 minutes, rinsing and repeating should help remove the entire stain after washing.”

Having a large washing machine drum will also make it easier to remove yellow stains from pillows.

Molly explained: “To clean and dry your pillow there needs to be plenty of room for it to move so a large drum is always recommended. 

“Ideally wash only one at a time depending on the machine size. There must be enough room to let the pillow move freely.”

For those who have smaller drums, the expert advised adding dryer balls or tennis balls to the machine.

She said: “Allowing your pillows to move freely in the washing machine or dryer is important to enable fibres to separate and re-loft. Adding dryer balls or even tennis balls can achieve this.”

For those looking for a natural and cheap way to remove yellow stains from their pillows, Chloe Baxter, product specialist at Mattressman, suggested using a dishwasher tablet.

She told Express.co.uk: “Ultimately, yellow stains are from your sweat in the night, and this time of year, the yellow stains will be more prominent. 

“However, these stains aren’t permanent and they’re quite easy to get out. 

“One thing that I’ve recommended to several people who email us asking about how to wash pillows is to put a dishwasher tablet in the drum of the washing machine and put the pillow in there. 

“No, I didn’t mistake a clothing wash tablet for a dishwasher tablet!”

This also works with duvets too – however, these generally don’t fit in a washing machine. 

Chloe added: “The whole idea is that the dishwasher tablet manages to cut through tough stains, which is why it’s so great for bright, white pillows.”

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