How to Whiten Pillows and Mattresses

· February 8, 2017
Ever wonder why your pillows and mattresses become so yellow with time? Read on to find out why, then learn how to whiten pillows and mattresses and keep them clean and beautiful and help prevent dust mites.

Everything in your house needs to be maintained or, at the very least, the majority of things need to be cleaned. Your pillows and mattress are no different. So how do you whiten pillows and mattresses that have turned yellow or dull?

Your pillows and mattress are probably home to some very visible stains and discoloration. Additionally, they can even be a breeding ground for mites and bad odors.

Would you like to get rid of this stains and leave behind beautiful and clean white fabric? Of course! Keep reading to learn how to whiten pillows and mattresses.

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Why are my pillows so yellow?

Yellow vs white pillows whiten pillows and mattresses

You may be wondering why your pillows become so discolored with time. Believe it or not, one of the main causes is sweat.

Sometimes our bodies sweat while we are sleeping. Depending on what your pillow is made of, your sweat can soak into it. When it dries, your sweat will leave yellow marks on your pillow.

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter what type of cover you put on the pillow. Your sweat can still filter down into the pillow itself. This can cause it to yellow and become a breeding ground for mites.

All of this happens because sweat creates humidity. This makes the perfect environment for mites. These pests can then cause both respiratory and skin allergic reactions.

That’s why it’s vital to clean pillows well.

Cleaning your pillows is more important than you might think. Check out what state your pillows are in to prevent possible future problems.

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Be careful with sun exposure

Another reason that your pillows might turn a yellowish color is that of sun exposure.

The problem is the whitening agents used to make pillows white. When they are exposed to sunlight, they start to break down and the color of your pillows gradually changes.

Be careful of overexposing your pillows to sunlight!

How to make homemade whitener

Woman sleeping with clean white pillow

Your pillows should be washed three times per year. Washing them this often is enough to keep them looking fantastic.

Let’s take a look at how to wash them.

First, you have to make sure that your pillow doesn’t have any yellow marks yet or make sure that it is still mostly white. Otherwise, you won’t get the results you want.

Next, prepare a homemade whitener:


  • 3 liters of water
  • 1/4 cup (62 ml) of lemon juice
  • 1 cup (250 ml) of hydrogen peroxide


  • Mix all of the ingredients.
  • Set it aside to whiten pillows and mattresses later.

How to whiten pillows and mattresses

Now let’s take a look at a more comprehensive whitening process.


  • Hot or boiling water
  • 1 cup (200 g) of laundry detergent (best if biodegradable)
  • 1 cup (200 g) of biodegradable dishwashing soap
  • 1 cup (250 ml) of homemade whitener (see above)
  • 1/2 cup (125 g) of borax


  • First, check the tags and make sure your pillow can be machine washed.
  • Then, take off the pillow cover.
  • Put your washing machine on hot or whites. You can add a couple of pots of boiling water if you choose to do so. If you can, program it for two rinse cycles.
  • Add the ingredients to the washing machine.
  • Then, start the wash cycle. Let it stir the water for a few minutes so all of the detergent is dissolved.
  • Put your pillows in and let the washer continue the wash cycle. This way, your homemade whitening agent can work on your pillows.

How to clean your mattress

Spray mattress with homemade whitener

Moreover, the same thing that happens to pillows can also happen to your mattress. That’s why it’s so important to protect it with bed sheets. You should, of course, also clean these sheets regularly.

It’s also important to ventilate your mattress every week. Additionally, you should wash it every once in a while to keep it in good condition.

  • To clean your mattress properly, you first need to vacuum both sides of it. This will get rid of any dust. Then, you can wash it by following the next few steps.
  • If there are any stains, you can clean them with a mixture of water and baking soda. After putting this paste on the stain, scrub it with vinegar and hydrogen peroxide diluted in water.
  • Lastly, you just have to let it air out.
  • If there is a bad smell that won’t go away, you can always spray it lightly with an air freshener. However, this is a personal issue that depends on what you and your family prefer.

Main image courtesy of ©

  • Kells, S. A. (2006). Nonchemical control of bed bugs. American Entomologist52(2), 109-110.
  • Tzanov, T., Basto, C., Gübitz, G. M., & Cavaco‐Paulo, A. (2003). Laccases to improve the whiteness in a conventional bleaching of cotton. Macromolecular materials and engineering288(10), 807-810.