Prevent ‘yellowing or discolouration’ on pillows in six easy steps

Lynsey Crombie shares how to check if you need new pillows

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Large yellow stains on pillows are unsightly and can be embarrassing if you’re offering your pillows to guests. One of the main reasons pillows turn yellow is sweat because sweat contains urea.

Urea is a harmless by-product of sweat but over time the urea breaks down and turns back into ammonia.

It’s the ammonia that then causes our pillows, mattresses and duvets to turn yellow.

So how can households stop their pillows turning yellow? Sleep expert and founder and CEO of Ethical Bedding, James Higgins has shared his tips on how to stop pillows turning yellow.

1. Use a pillow protector

Pillow protectors are a sleeve for pillows that go under your pillowcase.

They often provide a buffer against sweat, saliva, food spills, makeup and other stain-causing substances.

Pillow protectors are made from a plethora of materials including cotton, polyester, Terry and vinyl.

James said: “Encasing your pillow in a pillow protector can help prevent yellowing caused by sweat, oils and other liquids.”

2. Use a pillowcase

On top of your pillow protector, you can put your pillowcase. Your pillowcases, which come in a variety of materials, patterns and colours, will also help “prevent yellowing” caused by sweat and oils.

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3. Wash your pillow regularly

Think back to the last time you washed your pillow. Was it weeks, months or even years ago since you last washed it?

James said pillows need washing every six months to remove “any build-up of sweat, oils and other contaminants that can cause yellowing”.

Pillows can be washed in the washing machine with a small amount of detergent in the dispenser.

Wash them on a warm wash and add an extra rinse cycle to ensure any excess detergent is removed.

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Memory foam pillows can’t be washed in the machine so need to be put in a large sink or bath with cold water and detergent.

Down pillows can be washed in the machine but should be put on a gentle wash cycle to look after the feather filling.

4. Avoid direct sunlight

James said: “Direct sunlight can cause yellowing of pillows, so try to keep your pillows out of direct sunlight when not in use.”

5. Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach

While you may think you’re getting rid of the stains by adding bleach, this can actually cause “yellowing or discolouration of the pillow”.

6. Rotate your pillows

Rotating your pillows can prevent excessive wear and tear on one side, which can lead to yellowing.

It’s important to keep in mind that the yellowing of pillows is normal over time and may not be preventable.

If you have an older pillow that has yellowed, it may be time to replace it.

A few yellow stains on a pillow should be okay to use but if the pillow has turned completely yellow, or has developed brown stains, it likely needs replacing.

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