Pillows are among the most-used items in our homes. Every night, you use a pillow to rest your head for over 6 hours, leaving behind hair, makeup, sweat and dirt. Over time, the dirt builds up, leading to stained pillows. Fortunately, you can whiten and bring life back into old, yellowed pillows by washing, treating, and maintaining them using just a few DIY techniques.
Be aware that as a basic rule of thumb, you should always check care labels before washing your pillows. While most pillows are launderable in a washing machine, some might require a hand wash or spot cleaning only, as either the fabric or the pillow filling may be destroyed in the washing machine.
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Things you’ll need to remove pillow stains
There are two main methods in which to clean your stained pillows: Machine washing and Handwashing. You’ll need these ingredients for our two methods.
- Distilled white vinegar
- Regular powder laundry detergent
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Baking soda
Machine washing stained pillows
This is the easiest method to clean your pillows, you just toss the pillows in the machine with a DIY solution and let it wash for a long cycle on high-temperature mode.
For sweat stains, vinegar and hydrogen peroxide are some ingredients we can’t do without. The measurements for the ingredients are as follows:
- Half a bucket of hot water
- 2 cups of white vinegar
- 1 /2 cup powder detergent
- 1/2 a cup of baking soda
- 40ml of hydrogen peroxide
Soaking pillows in the stain removing solution:
- Fill a bucket halfway with hot water and pour in all the other ingredients
- Mix thoroughly
- Put the mixture into the drum of your washing machine, along with the pillows.
- Soak for about an hour.
Running the washing machine:
- Run the machine and let it go for a long wash (at least 2 hours, or your machine’s longest wash time).
- Rinse a second time with hot water alone. The mixture above can be thick, soapy and grainy and may need a thorough rinse.
- Run a second cycle with hot water only, or hot water and 1/2 cup of vinegar. This will remove any remaining soapy solution and will give your pillows a quick sanitization.
Checking if stains are gone:
- Remove your pillows from the washer and check to see if the yellow sweat stains have completely come off.
- If not, you can place the pillows back into the washing machine, this time running it using ¼ cup (2 oz) hydrogen peroxide, as a safer bleach solution.
- Once satisfied that they are clean, put the pillows in the dryer with 2 tennis balls that have been covered with socks. The tennis balls will punch the pillows as they dry, creating a more effective dry cycle and making the pillow fluff up nicely.
Hand washing and spot cleaning stained pillows
Machine washing is not always the best option for some pillows, for example, microfiber pillows. Some pillows are also simply too large for you washing machine to handle. If this is the case for your pillows, follow the procedure below to hand wash your pillows.
What you’ll need:
- 2 cups of white vinegar
- 1 cup powder detergent
- 1 cup baking soda
- 20ml of hydrogen peroxide
Lemons can be used in place of hydrogen peroxide to get similar results. You can use five lemons to get concentrated lemon juice.
Follow these steps:
- Half fill your basin or bathtub with hot water.
- Add the vinegar, powder detergent and hydrogen peroxide/ lemon juice in the measurements given and thoroughly mix well.
- Put in your stained pillows and leave to soak for an hour.
- Because of the soaking, most of the stains will have already come off. Hand wash gently or scrub on the stained parts using a soft-bristled brush.
- Continue lightly scrubbing until the stain has absolutely come off.
- Fill your tub with clean water to rinse the pillows. Keep squeezing the pillows until the water runs clear to remove all the soap.
- Lastly, put the pillows out in the sun to dry.
If the stains don’t come off in the first wash, make a paste of baking soda and water, depending on how dirty your pillows are or how big the stained patches are. Then apply the paste on the stains and leave for about 20 minutes. Give a second wash using just water and powder detergent.
Frequently asked questions about sweat stains on pillows
What causes stains on pillows?
Our bodies sweat at night, releasing almost 1 liter of sweat. This, plus body oils, facial makeup and hair (dirt and oils) cause the stains on the pillows.
Unfortunately, some of these are unavoidable, since sweating is the body’s natural way of cooling itself and it is also almost impossible to wash and clean our hair every night. For this reason, pillows get stained and need cleaning.
Is my pillow machine washable?
Check your pillow tags to see exactly how you should clean them. If the label states machine washable, then you are good to go. Also note that you should wash no more than two pillows at a time, to avoid overstuffing your machine and for maximum effectiveness of the cleaning solution.
How do I remove sweat stains from pillows?
Hydrogen peroxide, powder detergent and vinegar are the most recommended ingredients for sweat stains. Sweat stains are some of the grossest and most stubborn stains and so, stronger solutions are required.
Depending on the fabric used on your pillow, you can either machine wash, hand wash or spot clean using the three stain-fighting ingredients. If your pillows are colored, lemon juice can be used in place of hydrogen peroxide.
If not only your pillow are stained, but also your sheets, check out this article on how to remove sweat stains from sheets.
Is bleach suitable for removing sweat stains from pillows?
Bleach isn’t suitable for removing sweat stains because it can actually make the stains more yellow. Worse though, is that the product is too harsh to be used right next to your face. If you don’t manage to rinse the bleach all the way off, you’ll be breathing in toxic fumes all night long.
The above products are highly recommended and work perfectly to produce the desired outcome and they are all-natural, cost-effective and readily available in your kitchen cabinet, so why not try them?