Over time, pillows tend to turn yellow. This is perfectly normal as our body sweats at night to regulate its temperature. This sweat then seeps through the pillowcase and into the pillow’s fabric, leaving traces as it dries. This yellow discoloration is rather unsightly and can also make a bad impression in a rental. So what do you do? Don’t worry, buying new pillows is not the answer. Just like your other household linen, your pillows can be machine washed! Yes, that’s right! Whether made of natural or synthetic fibres, pillows can be easily washed with a little bit of care and a few simple ingredients. So feel free to clean them regularly (two to three times per year) to whiten them as well as remove any oil or dust build-up. Your travellers will rest more comfortably knowing that they’re sleeping on a clean, fresh pillow. Detailed below is this simple, effective and inexpensive whitening method...


Woman waking up in a bed with white bed linen and pillows©Ikea


1.  Verification. First of all, read the instructions on the labels to make sure the pillows are suitable for machine wash. Most pillows are, with the exception of memory foam pillows.


2. Products. After adding your usual dose of detergent, add 3 tablespoons of sodium percarbonate into the drum (Sodium percarbonate is a 100% eco-friendly grainy white powder which has neither chlorine nor phosphates and dissolves in water. It is made from soda carbonate and hydrogen peroxide and is sometimes called sodium carbonate hydrogen peroxide, sodium carbonate peroxyhydrate, sodium carbonate sesquiperhydrate or simply solid hydrogen peroxide. You can find it in supermarkets, DIY stores, in drugstores and organic shops).


3. Washing. If your pillows have a natural filling (feathers, down), wash them two by two and place a few tennis balls in the drum, these will help plump up the pillows and keep them soft. Start the washing cycle at 40°. If your pillows are synthetic, it is advisable to fill the machine (with sheets or towels) so that the pillows are wedged in, preventing the cotton inside them from getting deformed. Set the temperature at 60°.


4. Rinse and Spin. If your machine allows, choose "extra rinse" and if not, run the rinse cycle twice to avoid any detergent residue staying on the pillows. Set the spin to maximum.


5. Drying. Preferably allow the pillows to air dry in the sun. The sun’s rays help whiten linens. If the pillows are made of natural fibres, they can only be air dried, in this case make sure to turn them regularly to allow for even drying. If they are synthetic, you can put them in the dyer. When doing so, set the heat to low (maximum 60 °) and place two tennis balls in the drum. These will help the pillows dry more quickly and restore their fluffiness.


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