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How to clean yellowed pillowcases

There's nothing like laying your tired head on a crisp, clean, fresh-smelling pillowcase at night. Over time, sweat and natural body oils rub off your skin, onto the pillowcase, causing an unpleasant yellow discolouration. Although the common tendency is to use chlorine bleach to remove yellowed stains from white or light-coloured pillowcases, the use of bleach can make the discolouration worse. Proper cleaning methods and supplies help remove the chemicals and proteins that cause the yellow stains, leaving your pillowcases clean and bright.

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  1. Place the yellowed pillowcases in a bucket. Cover them with undiluted white vinegar and allow them to soak for 15 to 30 minutes to help release perspiration and oils in the fibres that cause the yellowing of the fabric.

  2. Remove the fabric from the vinegar soak and rinse the pillowcases with water. Apply enzyme pre-wash stain remover to the yellow discolouration and let it sit on the fabric for 15 minutes. The enzymes break down the protein in the stains and help remove the discolouration.

  3. Launder the pillowcases with washing powder and oxygen bleach to remove any remaining yellowed stains.

  4. Hang dry the pillowcases on a drying rack, in the sun. Direct sunlight naturally bleaches out any remaining yellow stains from the fabric.

  5. Tip

    If the yellow stains are fresh, sponge them with undiluted ammonia, instead of vinegar. Old yellowed stains on pillowcases benefit from soaking in the vinegar solution overnight. Repeat these steps, as needed, until the stains are removed.

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Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • White vinegar
  • Enzyme pre-wash stain remover
  • Washing powder
  • Oxygen bleach
  • Drying rack

About the Author

Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.

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