How To Clean Grimy Pillowcases

How to clean grimy pillowcases from HousewifeHowTos Have you noticed yourself wondering more often during the summer how to clean grimy pillowcases? Maybe it’s the heat and humidity combined with the extra activities we all take on, or perhaps you’ve had house guests who weren’t good at removing their makeup before bed.

Either way, dingy pillowcases tend to be stinky ones, too. Really, who wants to lay their head on a pillow that smells? Here’s how to clean grimy pillowcases so they both look and smell fresh.

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Clean grimy pillowcases with liquid dish soap.

I am always amazed at what a thorough job Dawn Original does cutting through greasy laundry stains, and when it comes to grimy pillowcases the stuff’s just as good. Squirt it on then scrub it in with a stiff-bristled brush. Let it sit as-is overnight, then rinse it in VERY HOT water to remove as much soap as possible. (Cold water doesn’t cut through greasy stains well no matter how good of a detergent you use.) Once you’ve rinsed most of the liquid soap out, put it in the washing machine using the hottest possible water setting and add 1 cup white vinegar to the cycle (you won’t need more soap). Vinegar is an excellent grease-cutter, too, and should take care of any remaining stain.

Keep pillowcases from getting grimy again.

You may not be able to talk your family into showering every night before bed, but you can still take a few steps to keep your pillowcases from getting grimy again.

First, skip the fabric softeners and dryer sheets. These work by coating fabric with a very light layer of wax or grease, both of which attract and hold onto skin and hair oils. Add vinegar to your wash cycle and you won’t have a problem with static.

Also, wash your bed linens in hot water. Not only will this get rid of any hair or skin oils on your linens, it will also kill bacteria and allergens so you can sleep better at night.

It only takes a few minutes to clean grimy pillowcases, and a few simple steps to keep them from getting grimy again. Why not tackle yours today?


  1. says

    Dearest Katie,
    This cannot be shared often enough and yes, prevention is as important as the cure in this case. Vinegar works miracles in our household and this is an excellent tutorial on the home economics of laundry.
    Hugs to you,

  2. Katie B. says

    Vinegar is truly amazing. It’s odd that here in America we’ve been brainwashed to believe we must use harsh chemicals to get our home and laundry truly clean. Our grandparents didn’t have “Scrubbing Bubbles” or “Mop & Glo” but we know they were excellent housekeepers. They used vinegar!

  3. Sue says

    Some have laughed at me for my inventory of vinegar, but when I explain all the money saving tips that come along with the product, they find themselves becoming one of the club….LOL.

    By the way, love the new site design. I’s easy to navigate and very pleasing to the eye!

    • Katie B. says

      I have shelves and shelves of vinegar, too. The grocery store clerk always look at me oddly when I buy an entire cartful when it’s on sale…not that vinegar’s ever expensive, but if I can get it at 50 cents for a gallon, I’m stockpiling!

      Thank you for the feedback on the new site design. I’m very, very happy with it, and it’s so easy to add/change stuff if I need to. Love that!

  4. sarah says

    Does this work if they have been yucky looking for a couple of years? I just don’t want to waste my time doing it if they are too bad to do anything about, with two small kiddos my time is precious

    • Katie Berry says

      It should work but, honestly, I fail to see what is so time-consuming about scrubbing with a brush, then filling a sink with hot soapy water and dumping pillowcases in so they can sit overnight. Surely your two small kiddos can spare you for three minutes.

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