How to Whiten Pillows and Mattresses

You should clean and bleach your pillows and mattresses, at least 3 times a year. Otherwise, dirt and odors can excessively accumulate.
How to Whiten Pillows and Mattresses

Written by Lorena González

Last update: 26 May, 2022

Everything in your house needs to be maintained, at the very least, and the majority of things need to be cleaned. Your pillows and mattress are no different. 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 these stains and leave behind beautiful and clean white fabric? Of course! Keep reading to learn how to whiten pillows and mattresses.

Why are my pillows so yellow?

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 turn yellow and become a breeding ground for mites. That’s why it’s necessary to keep them clean.

Some dirty pillows on a bed.
You should wash your pillow at least 3 times a year to keep them white and in good condition.

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.

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

You might like: Improve Your Water Quality at Home

Be careful with sun exposure to whiten pillows and mattresses

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

The problem is with 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 whiten pillows and mattresses

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.

Although according to popular belief, by using this method you can get good results when it comes to pillow cleaning, there isn’t, at the moment, enough scientific evidence about it, so using it or not is up to you.

Next, we’ll show you how to prepare a homemade whitener:

Ingredients for a homemade whitener to whiten pillows and mattresses


  • Mix all of the ingredients and set the mixture aside to whiten pillows and mattresses later.
  • Next, we’ll give you the rest of the remedy.
A person cleaning sheets with an orange.
To whiten your pillows, you can prepare your own homemade detergent with a little bit of lemon juice and other ingredients.


  • Homemade whitener (see above)
  • 1/2 c. of borax
  • Hot or boiling water
  • 1 c. of laundry detergent (best if biodegradable)
  • 1 c. of biodegradable dishwashing soap

Directions to whiten pillows and mattresses

  1. First, check the tags and make sure your pillow can be machine washed
  2. Then, take off the pillow cover
  3. Put your washing machine onto the setting for 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
  4. Add the ingredients to the washing machine
  5. Then, start the wash cycle. Let it stir the water for a few minutes so all of the detergents are dissolved
  6. 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

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 bedsheets. 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 awhile to keep it in good condition.

To do so, you can prepare a mixture of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide and follow the following steps:

  • 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 for about an hour.
  • If there is a bad smell that won’t go away, you can always spray it lightly with an air freshener or essential oil. However, this is a personal issue that depends on what you and your family prefer.

Use these tips that can help you keep your pillows and mattresses in good condition, and avoid possible problems due to allergies or mites.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • 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.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.