How to remove sweat stains from pillowcases

how to remove sweat stains from pillowcases

Our bodies perspire when we sleep at night, leaving behind sweat that stains the bedsheets and pillowcases. Most of the time the yellow sweat stains don’t come off with regular washing methods and overtime the sweat stains buildup, leaving the pillowcases looking gross and discolored.

But, you don’t have to buy new pillowcases every time this happens. There are two effective approaches for getting rid of sweat stains on pillowcases and making them a thing of the past:

  1. The soak approach
  2. The washing machine approach

You can either soak and then handwash or soak and then transfer the pillowcases to the washing machine. Whichever method works for you, the ingredients work like magic for sweat stains on pillowcases and bedsheets.

The soaking approach

This method combines dish soap, vinegar and Borax to eliminate sweat stains on pillowcases. The dish soap removes hair and body oils. The Borax or baking soda acts as a natural bleach and stain remover. And the distilled white vinegar gets rid of sweat odors, works on stain removal and even softens the pillowcases at the same time.

What you’ll need:

  • 4 spoons of liquid dishwashing soap
  • 1/4 cup of Borax (can substitute with baking soda)
  • 1 cup of white distilled vinegar

Follow this procedure:

  1. Take a bucket full of hot water and add in vinegar, borax, and dish soap in the measurements given, you do not want to overdo it.
  2. Throw in the pillowcases.
  3. Aggressively stir the pillowcases in the solution with your hands occasionally to ensure a good mix of everything. This will help release the stains/ lighten the stains.
  4. Do this 2-3 times, with and hour in between each stir.
  5. Leave the pillowcases to soak overnight. If the stains are bad, the longer, the better.
  6. In the morning, remove the pillowcases from the solution, squeeze off excess liquid, then transfer to the washing machine.
  7. Most of the stain will have come off at this stage because the liquid dish soap will break down the oils, the Borax will lighten the yellow stain, and the vinegar will lift everything.
  8. At this stage, you can choose to handwash by gently scrubbing off the remaining stains while using some powder detergent soap
  9. Rinse with clean cold water
  10. Hang the pillowcases in the sun to dry. Sun is also a natural bleacher.
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The washing machine approach

Things you’ll need:

  • 2 spoons of liquid dish soap
  • 1/4 cup of Borax
  • 1 cup of vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of powder laundry detergent (can substitute with liquid detergent)

Follow this procedure:

  1. If you finish the wash by transferring to the washing machine, make sure you get rid of excess water. The pillowcases should be damp but not dripping wet.
  2. Add Borax with your normal laundry powder detergent to the washing machine. Put them together in the same place. The amount of borax used should be just right for most pillowcases. Because of how borax can foam and react, avoid adding over 1/4 cup to any load.
  3. Then set your machine to the hottest setting.
  4. Add two spoons of liquid dishwashing soap directly inside the water.
  5. Put in your pillowcases.
  6. Turn on the machine on a normal wash cycle and let everything wash up.
  7. Pour 1/2 cup of vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser.
  8. If your machine does not have this option, add the vinegar during the rinse cycle.
  9. If you have a top-loading machine, open the door and pour the vinegar in.
  10. For the front-loading machine, pour in the vinegar at the dispenser on top.
  11. If your machine locks the doors or dispensers while the machine is washing, then you will have to add the vinegar before the start of the wash cycle.
  12. This amount of vinegar is enough for a pair of sheets and pillowcases. You can add more or less depending on how many pairs of pillowcases you are washing.
  13. Once the wash and rinse are done, put in the dryer to dry them.
  14. The pillowcases will come out looking as clean as new.
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If it’s not only your pillowcases that are sweat stained, but the pillows themselves, read here to learn how you can eliminate sweat stains from your pillows completely.

Frequently asked questions about sweat stains

Can baking soda be substituted for borax?

Baking soda can be used in place of Borax to remove sweat stains from pillowcases, it will all give the same results. Soaking in hot water and using liquid dish soap is the most important step. Liquid dish soap is an excellent degreaser that will remove all the body and hair oils on the pillowcases.

Can the method be used to remove stains on colored bedsheets and pillowcases?

Yes, the ingredients above can all be used to remove sweat stains from colored bed sheets and pillowcases.

None of the ingredients contain chlorine or bleach. Borax will brighten the clothes, but not discolor them. They are all-natural and will not harm you or your clothes. The key to success here is dish soap. The longer you soak your pillowcases in hot water and dish soap, the better.

Is bleach suitable for removing stains from pillowcases?

Bleach, or any product with chlorine is not suitable for removing stains on bed sheets or pillowcases, even if they are white. Other than making the stains more pronounced, bleach will destroy the fabric of your bedsheets and ruin the quality.

Bleach is also not safe for you and can cause toxic reactions if you try to mix with other cleaning products.

How do you prevent sweat stain build-up on pillowcases?

To avoid the build-up of sweat and oil stains on the pillowcases, it’s advised to wash them every week and use the products mentioned. When cleaning pillowcases it’s best to clean them separately with bedsheets because you don’t have to use borax on all your laundry, so you can set a day in the week for cleaning bedsheets and pillowcases only.

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Wrapping up

Removing sweat stains from pillowcases is not an impossible task, regardless of the color of the pillowcases. All you have to do is give them a good soak in hot water, dish soap and borax, and you’ll be good to go. Stained pillows can be an eyesore, no matter how clean, so show them some TLC and get them bright again.

Enjoy your crisp, clean pillowcases!

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