How to Clean Yellow Pillows and Keep Them Fresh

Over the summer one of my customers mentioned that she washed her old yellow pillows by using a mixture of household detergents. She was thrilled because she was able to whiten her old pillows, freshen them, and she did not have to buy new ones for her guest rooms. yellow pillows

Are All Pillows Washable?

Make sure to check the label.  You can wash most synthetic pillows and even down-filled pillows. My pillows said, “Do Not Wash, Spot Clean Only.” But I did it anyway, because they were filled with a synthetic fiber meant to mimic down feathers. If your pillow has memory foam or latex foam inside – DO NOT WASH IT. Sometimes, the memory foam or latex part of the pillow is removable, and you can wash the outer cover only.

How to Clean Yellow Pillows

When the mood hit me to rescue my own beloved, old, yellow, fiber-filled pillows (with just the right amount of fluff!), I forgot what detergents to mix to get my pillows back to their formerly white glory. I found the mixture on this website, and here it is:

  • 1 cup powdered laundry detergent (I used Gain – lavender)
  • 1 cup powdered dish detergent (I used a store brand)
  • 1 cup bleach or bleach alternative (I used Clorox bleach pods)
  • 1/2 cup borax

Depending on how many pillows, you need a pretty large washing machine. I did this in my old Kenmore washing machine. (You could also use a bathtub and pour in boiled hot water in a pinch.)

  1. In your washing machine, turn on the HOT water and let the whole tub fill up.
  2. As the HOT water is filling up, start pouring in the detergents, Clorox, and borax.
  3. Before the agitator starts, mix all the ingredients up with a clothes hanger (that’s what I used).
  4. When the washer is completely filled with water, turn it off or pause.
  5. Stuff your pillows in the washer. This is pretty tough to do, because they’re filled with air. I stuffed three queen size pillows in there at once.
  6. Let them soak in that cleansing stew for at least 30 minutes.
  7. After 15 minutes, flip the pillows over to make sure all sides are getting thoroughly cleaned.
  8. Let the washing machine complete its washing cycle. (Since my washing machine is old, I ran the spin cycle two times to spin more water out.)
  9. Let your pillows dry in the sunshine, or if you’re like me, throw them in the dryer with a dryer sheet.

I am sharing this because I could not believe how clean the pillows came. They looked brand new and smelled so fresh and clean! I wouldn’t try to save a really cheap pillow, but these are some of my favorites.

Since this concoction worked so well on yellow pillows, I thought it might work on my husband’s yellowed tee shirts (you know the underarm part that always gets those yellow stains) and my 10-year-old’s discolored socks. I followed the same procedure, and this DOES NOT WORK on tee shirts or little boy’s dingy socks, I am sad to report.

How to Keep Pillows Fresh

The best way to keep revived pillows looking brand new is to use a pillow protector.  A pillow protector works the same way a mattress protector works; it protects the pillow from the nightly oils and sweat we humans naturally excrete while we sleep each night. I know, yuck.

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