Like most people, you may be wondering, “Why does my pillow turn brown?” It is not an uncommon thing for pillows to turn brown, especially after they have been used for a prolonged period of time. And for some, this mystery brown color is often yellow.


Whether your pillows have turned brown or yellow over time, we can all agree on one thing: such stained pillows are not attractive, and neither do they add to the aesthetic appeal of the room. So, how can you get your pillows back to their original white color and bring back the elegant look of your room? And even more important, why do pillows turn brown (or yellow) in the first place? Read on to find out!


Why Does My Pillow Turn Brown?

Pillows were among the most used items in a house. Not only do we use these at night, but we also use them during the day time for cushioning the head, supporting the back, or simply to cuddle with them. Considering how much we use pillows, it is no surprise that these develop brownish or yellowish stains overtime.

Pillows tend to turn brown or yellow overtime due to the accumulation of sweat, drooling or dampness caused by wet hair. Also, some people have the habit of jumping straight into bed without taking off their makeup. The makeup leaves stains on the pillows, causing brown or yellow discoloration. And as for those who remove their makeup and apply a nighttime skin routine, the residues from these skincare products may be left on the pillow while they sleep, leading to discoloration.

Let’s look into each of these reasons that cause discoloration of pillows, as well practical steps that you can take to minimize the occurrence of these stains that lead to discoloration:

RELATED = = = > How Much Should You Spend on a Good Pillow?

1. Sweating

It’s perfectly normal to sweat at night while sleeping. After all, the body regulates its temperature through sweating. Most people don’t notice that they sweat at night because it is not excessive. However, there are ‘hot-sleepers’; people who sweat excessively, usually due to underlying medical conditions.

When you sweat, the body oils that your body produces penetrate into the pillow. In addition to body oils, the sweat contains urea, which also soaks up the pillow. When the sweat dries up, the urea substance leads to discoloration of the pillows, causing them to turn brown.

If you regularly sweat while sleeping, you would do well to buy a satin pillowcase for your pillow. Satin pillowcases provide a cooling effect that significantly reduce sweating, preventing your pillows from discoloring.


2. Drooling

This is one of the major causes for brown pillows. Drooling while sleeping usually leaves stains on different parts of the pillow. And when these stains dry, they may cause your pillow to develop brown stains overtime. In fact, you can find brown spots almost everywhere on the pillows of people who drool excessively.


3. Damp hair

It is a habit of most people to shower right before they go to bed. And sometimes, we don’t dry out our hair very well. Sleeping with damp hair makes the pillow get wet. And as the moisture seeps into the pillow, it draws out all the dust, dirt and sweat. Overtime, this leads to the development of permanent brown stains on the pillow.

Therefore, to prevent your pillows from turning brown, dry your hair completely before going to sleep. In addition, cover your head, such as using a satin bonnet, to prevent any moisture in your hair from seeping through the pillow.


4. The Residue of Skincare Products

Both men and women have particular skincare routines that they follow, such as using lotions, creams, toners and moisturizers. If these are not washed off before bedtime, or are applied at night, they leave residues on the pillow. These residues are then absorbed into the pillow, leading to permanent discoloration overtime. To prevent this from happening, you should always remove your makeup before sleeping.

RELATED = = = > What Happens If You Don’t Use a Pillowcase?

How to Wash and Whiten Pillows

If your pillows have already turned brown or yellow, you could opt to buy new pillows to replace these. But why should you opt for this expensive solution, while you could simply whiten the pillows by washing and save yourself some bucks? Consider this step-by-step procedure on how you can clean your discolored pillows using a washing machine and bring them back to their original state:



  • ½ cup peroxide
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup powdered laundry detergent
  • ½ cup baking soda
  • 1 cup powdered dishwashing detergent


1. Before tossing your discolored pillows into the washer, pretreat them first. You can use baking soda paste or a stain remover spray for this process. Then, leave the pillows to soak for about 15 minutes.


2. Soak all the pillows in hot water. Doing so helps to dissolve the stubborn stains, making it easier for the cleaning materials and detergents to remove the brown or yellow stains when the washing cycle is started.


3. Add dish washing detergent, baking soda, laundry detergent and a cup of vinegar to your washer. Then, toss the pillows inside and start the cycle.


4. When the first wash cycle is done, run the second cycle with hot water. Also, add a cup of vinegar to remove any soap residues that remain and also to sanitize the pillow.

RELATED = = = > Why Do Feather Pillows Smell?

5. After the second cycle is done, remove the pillows from the washer and check for color improvement. If the pillows have some residual brown stains, run them again in the washer using half-cup peroxide.


Still, if the pillow has brown stains even after running the cycle, you can choose to continue using it with a pillowcase. However, if the pillow has any mold, mildew or lingering odors, it would be best to throw it away and buy a new one.


6. Dry the pillows in the dryer under the air-dry setting. You can toss in some tennis balls in the dryer for a more effective drying cycle.



“Why does my pillow turn brown?” It is most probably due to those night sweats, excessive drooling, damp hair or residue from beauty products. The good news is, you can get your stained pillow back into its original white state. So rather than be quick to throw your stained pillows, follow the above-discussed steps on how to wash and whiten pillows and save yourself some bucks while you’re at it!

READ ME NEXT = = = > The Best Way to Clean a Stainless Steel Sink

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.