Purify your Pillowcases: How to Remove Sweat Stains from Pillowcases

Last Updated on February 28, 2020 by Ecorf

If you are lucky, you probably spend about 30% of your day blissfully asleep.  No matter how clean you may be, over that time you inevitably get a little dirt, grime, or sweat on your bed linens, pillows and pillowcases especially.  After a little time, most pillows and pillowcases tend to get those unsightly, and a little embarrassing, yellow tinged sweat stains. You may have washed and rewashed and bleached and soaked and not had any luck.  So what is the secret on how to remove sweat stains from pillowcases? Here are a few different methods that people swear by!

Detergent Detox

One of the easiest things to do to remove sweat stains from pillowcases will be to use your household detergent in a more targeted way.  According to Hunker.com, follow these simple steps to purify your pillowcases:

  1. Remove pillow from pillowcase.
  2. Apply detergent* using a cloth by rubbing in circular motions around the stain.  Allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Place pillowcases in washer, then dry making sure to follow the manufacturer’s care instructions for both cycles.
  4. Pull out from dryer and enjoy your fresh and clean pillowcases!

*Hunker suggests using a detergent formulated for protein-based stains.  Try this five-star option from Amazon!

Purify your Pillowcases: How to Remove Sweat Stains from Pillowcases

Sink Soak and Scrub

Part of the reason pillowcase stains tends to be stubborn is due to the greasy structure of the stains created by our bodies.  As such, a degreasing formula, Housewifehowtos suggests the following method with Dawn Dish Soap, will help to de-grease and destain your linens.  Follow these steps to soak away the sweat stains:

  1. Fill your plugged sink with hot (not lukewarm!) water and mix in ¼ cup Dawn and 1 cup Baking soda. 
  2. While generally, we are trying to get the grease out of our pillows, this step will require an additional kind of grease: elbow grease!  Add in your pillowcases and soak. You will then scrub the pillowcases against themselves to try and lift up the stain and grime settled in there.
  3. Remove your linens and drain your sink.  Then add your laundry back in after refilling your sink with HOT water.  Allow to soak for as long as possible, but at least for 1-2 hours.  
  4. Rinse the pillowcases with HOT water (Housewifehowto’s suggests until the water runs clear) and then throw through your normal wash cycle.  

Purify your Pillowcases: How to Remove Sweat Stains from Pillowcases

Disclaimer: This method suggests hot water, however, make sure that this aligns with the care instructions for your particular pillowcases.  If they are meant to be washed in cool or cold, this will not be the method for you!

Stripping your Sheets

Stripping (no not removing your linens from your bed) is a great option when all else fails.  It is a little more intensive than other methods, but you will be amazed at the dirt and grime that comes out of even your most regularly washed pillowcases.  The method we like to follow was originally posted on littlethings.com in their DIY section.  

  1. For this method you want to start with already clean sheets, so throw your pillowcases into the wash and wash according to the original care instructions.
  2. Fill your bathtub with as-hot-as-you-can-get-it water and add ¼ cup of baking soda and ¼ cup of Borax, along with ½ cup of detergent. Allow to mix in and dissolve into the bathwater.
  3. Add in your cleaned (but not dried!) pillowcases and let them soak in the hot tub mixture for four hours.  Periodically check and stir laundry to get the best overall clean.
  4. Drain your tub, wring out soaked laundry, and move back to the washing machine.  Make sure for this wash cycle, you do water only to help to rinse out the cleaning solution for your best clean.
  5. Now you can dry your pillowcases and your head can enjoy laying on clean fresh sheets once more!


Disclaimer: According to users, this method will turn your bath water while you soak to a disconcerting grey color (one user’s water was so opaque she couldn’t see her hand when she reached in to get her laundry out).  There may also be an unpleasant smell associated with this process. These are both normal and mean that your sweat stains and other grime are being expelled from your pillowcases!

After spending 30% of our time in our beds, it’s no wonder that pillowcases may need a little more TLC than washing them once a week.  Our bodies leave sweat and oil stains that tend to cling to our chosen fabrics for bedding. If a normal wash, even with some bleach, isn’t helping to make your pillowcases somewhere you dream about laying your head all night, try these simple tips to get ALL the grime out.  Reminder to remember to pay attention to the care instructions on your pillowcases, and pick your method accordingly, to make sure you aren’t doing any damage. Any of the above methods should get your pillowcases nice and clean and you can just focus on some sweet dreams.