Tired of sleeping on a yellowed, smelly pillow? These steps get grimy pillowcases clean again.
If you’ve laundered your bedding and still notice greasy, yellow stains and odors, these steps to clean grimy pillowcases will get your linens clean and fresh again.
How To Clean and Whiten Grimy Pillowcases
When you’re dealing with a yellowed pillowcase, it’s tempting to add extra bleach to the wash to get the pillowcase white again. However, that won’t work because bleach doesn’t remove grease and can make the stain permanent. Instead, follow these steps, which dissolve the chemical bonds between the greasy residue and the fabric to get your pillowcase white again.
1. Prepare a cleaning solution. First, fill a sink basin with very hot water, then add 1/4 cup Dawn Original dish detergent (Fairy or Sunlight in the UK) and 1 cup baking soda. Swirl until the baking soda is dissolved and then add the pillowcase.
2. Scrub the fabric. Grab a hunk of the pillowcase in each hand and scrub it against itself. Switch to another area on the pillowcase and repeat until you’ve given it a good all-over rub. (A laundry scrub board works even better.)
3. Refill the sink and let it soak. Drain the sink, refill it with hot water, and add a few more drops of dish soap. Then put the pillowcase back in and let it soak for 1-2 hours, or even overnight. After it has soaked, rinse it thoroughly in HOT water until the water runs clear.
4. Launder. Finally, put the pillowcase through a hot wash and rinse cycle in your washing machine using your regular laundry detergent plus 2 cups of white vinegar. Do not add fabric softener. The vinegar in this final step removes any lingering soap or grease residue and kills odors, so don’t skip it. If your machine has one, use a second rinse cycle for this last step.
Why Do Pillowcases Get Yellow and Grimy?
Parents of teens are familiar with how their hormones lead to greasy hair and skin, which stains their pillows. Active adults and those who exercise heavily or work outdoors also find their pillowcases turn yellow due to hair and body oils. Moisturizers, overnight face treatments, and makeup residue can also lead to a grimy or slick, waxy feeling on your pillowcase.
How to Wash Pillowcases to Keep them Stain-Free
There are two secrets that help keep that yellowing grime from staining your pillowcases once you’ve removed it.
First, skip the fabric softeners and dryer sheets. These work by coating fabric with a light layer of wax or grease, which attracts and holds onto skin and hair oils. If you’ve been using them to fight static cling, try adding white vinegar to your rinse cycle instead. (Here are other reasons to use vinegar in your laundry.)
Second, use an oxygenated bleach when washing your linens. Chlorine bleach doesn’t remove grease well and can cause the proteins in sweat and body oils to permanently bond with the fabric. Plus, adding bleach along with the recommended vinegar is dangerous. Oxygenated bleach turns into hydrogen peroxide in the wash, where it helps eliminate stains and whiten your pillowcases again.
How to Keep Pillowcases from Getting Greasy
To keep your pillowcases from getting greasy, get in the habit of showering before bed or, at the very least, wash your face well so body oils don’t rub off on your pillow while you sleep.
Another way to prevent grimy stains on your pillowcases is to wash your bedding every week. Follow a good bedroom cleaning routine that includes laundering your sheets and pillowcases. If you are very active or work outdoors, have allergies, or are just prone to oily hair, you should consider changing pillowcases every other day.
Finally, if you like to stretch the time between shampooing, you might want to consider wearing a satin-lined sleep cap or bonnet to bed. The satin keeps your hair from tangling or getting frizzy while you sleep, while the cap protects your bedding from hair products and oils, so your pillowcase never develops that yellow, waxy layer of grime at all.
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