4 Simple Ways About How to Get Yellow Stains Out of White Sheets

how to get yellow stains out of white sheets

Unfortunately, your pretty white sheets can turn yellow with age. How to get yellow stains out of white sheets? Here are the four best and most simple ways.

You may have a favorite set of sheets. You notice with time, they start to go yellow. How to get yellow stains out of white sheets? This post is all about helping you extend the life of those sheets by sharing four simple ways to remove those ugly yellow stains.

Why Do Bed Sheets Turn Yellow?

First, let’s examine why bed sheets turn yellow.  

Well for starters, it’s our body oils and dead skin. I talked about that a bit more in How Often Should I Wash My Sheets.  In a nutshell, we make the sheets dirty.

If you don’t wash them properly, the sheets will have a build-up and look dingy. And they won’t be as soft and clean-feeling which is why you wanted these lovely white sheets in the first place.

Before we go into the three simple ways, I’d like to mention how important it is to spot treat before you wash your sheets.

Spot Treatment

Generally speaking, you want to wash sheets in warm or hot water. I’ll go into that in more detail in a second. But if you have something that’s protein based (like blood), it will coagulate in the hot water and be more difficult to get out.

So if there’s a blood stain, you will want to spot treat it with cold water as best you can before you launder the linen.


If you want your whites to be bright white, use a bleach or bleach alternative. But you should only use bleach if your sheets are 100% cotton.

Most washing machines have a special funnel for adding in the bleach.  You should add the recommended amount during the last five minutes of the wash cycle or follow Dr Laundry’s instructions below.

Some good bleach alternatives would be borax based or oxygen based additives. You can find them in the laundry aisle of your local market.  Use these consistently to help get rid of the body oils, dead skin and additional stuff we add to our bodies like moisturizer. This is part of the process of knowing how to get out yellow stains from white sheets.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

Baking soda is a great and inexpensive first step if you want to brighten your sheets. Try adding ¼ cup of baking soda when you add in the detergent during the wash cycle.  That will help remove the detergent build-up.

If that doesn’t seem to work, then try using ½-1 cup of white vinegar. Vinegar should be added to your rinse cycle. You can buy a gallon of the cheap vinegar at most of the warehouse stores. Why use vinegar? Vinegar rinses away any residue hanging out on your whites and brightens them up.

Just a quick side note. If you want soft towels and want to use fabric softener. But you read that fabric softener reduces the absorption of a towel.  You can use the fabric softener and then put some vinegar in the rinse cycle. Your towels will be soft and fluffy and super absorbent.

The Obvious Stuff

Sometimes we need to be reminded more than we need to be instructed.  I read that in a book once.  So here I’m going to list the things you probably already know but may not be doing because you either forgot or you think it doesn’t matter that much.

These are also great ideas to keep your sheets staying bright and white for a long time.


Sheets on the washing line

1. Measure out the detergent you use

One of the biggest reasons why whites become discolored is because of detergent residue building up.  If you have soft water, a general guideline is to use about half of the usual amount of recommended detergent.

Some people feel that cheap detergent builds up faster than expensive detergent. I’m not convinced. However, you should read the manual on your washing machine to see how much they recommend you use.

2. Wash whites with whites

Make sure you only wash your white sheets with other white items like socks or undershirts. Better yet, wash your sheets alone if you can.

This is probably a better idea since you want to be sure your sheets are well rinsed. People often stuff as much as they can into one load thinking they’re saving time, money and water. But unfortunately, your clothes don’t get clean, and look pretty dingy.

I had one boss whose partner would stuff four loads into the washing machine, and his clothes would still stink. Don’t be that person!

bedding sheets and pillow sleep bed

Close up of bedding sheets and pillow

3. Use warm or hot water and cold rinse

The warmer the water, the faster the oil will dissolve off of the fabric. So if you have any build-up of body oil, you will want to use a hotter water temperature for washing.

But why a cold rinse? Oddly enough, cold water breaks up detergent better. The detergent will kind of solidify like soap scum. And it’s easier to get soap scum off when it’s cold and easier to flake it off.

4. Wash your sheets regularly

Keeping your sheets clean will lower the chances of them looking dingy and faded.  You want those bright white sheets when you crawl into bed, don’t you?

Generally speaking, you should change them once every week or two. During the hot summer months, you should think about changing your sheets every four or five days. Your body produces more sweat and oil in the warmer months.

And remember, if you’re washing your sheets, wash your pillowcases along with it. You won’t need to wash your duvet cover as often.  Just keep your eyes on it. And turn your comforter over when you change so a different side is on the top.

One quick note, though, is if you let pets on the bed. They will be getting their oils and dead skin and whatnot onto the duvet cover, and you may want to wash it more frequently to keep it clean and sanitized.

You can read more about washing your sheets regularly here.

In Conclusion

Keep your sheets in good condition. You can make them brighter and cleaner for longer by knowing how to get yellow stains out of white sheets. I shared four simple ways to address the yellowing of white sheets over time. I hope they help!