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How to Remove Brown Stains

WayneL5 | Posted in General Discussion on

This is my first time here.  I’m a bachelor engineer who’s posted hundreds of times in Breaktime and sometimes in Over the Fence and House Chat, but never before here.  This seems like a group of people who could answer my question.

How do you remove the brownish stain that pillowcases get in the area where the head lays?  Normal laundering with detergent reduces the visibility, but it’s presence is still quite apparent.  I’m afraid to bleach because my pillow cases are colored.  How do you get pillow cases completely clean when washing them?  I have no trouble getting clothes clean, even my work clothes, but this one eludes me.


  1. rekha | | #1

    Sweat builds up on the pillow with months of sleeping on it and the dust around it causes the pigmentation. The solution is to wash the pillow.

  2. sewpro | | #2

    I have found that BIZ is the best when you can't use bleach. It costs more, but is worth it- good luck!

  3. solosmocker | | #3

    Bachelor Wayne, do what I do because I have very little laundry at this stage of my life. Fill the machine with hot water and add a cup of Biz. put your pillowcases in. Throw in any other whites you may have. Let it agitate for at the most one minute and turn off. Now just let this sit for a few days, adding more whites as they accumulate. When you finally decide to wash, put the machine back on and let it do its thing with the Biz. When it is completely done fill with hot water again, some laundry soap, and wash and dry as per usual. Do this every week with your whites and you won't have this problem any more. Those pillowcases should be washed every week, bachelor guy! LOL!

  4. User avater
    Becky-book | | #4

    Have you tried Oxi-clean?  It comes in a canister (powder) and you mix it in warm water then soak item for 3 hours. then launder as usual.  OK for most all washable colors.


  5. User avater
    Becky-book | | #5

    One more thing.... once you have dried item w/ stain (in dryer) it just might be permanent!

    1. WayneL5 | | #6

      It sounds like Biz and other oxygen bleaches combined with soaking is the way to go.  Thanks, everyone!

      1. diday | | #7

        I have used the powdered Oxi-Clean and hot water to soak stained whites in my kitchen sink. I used a potato masher to agitate the fabric up and down and removed as soon as I saw the stain gone, then rinsed and laundered as usual. I've heard some say Oxi-Clean didn't work for them but perhaps the water wasn't hot enough or the solution was more diluted than necessary. I contacted the company and am told it is safe for colors but testing is recommended.I also use a liquid laundry product Miracle White which is said to be safe for all fabrics and colors. In fact, I just pretreated spots on a white table cloth by rubbing the liquid into the stain until it was gone, then put it into the washing machine to wash in cold water. I would try either of these products and rub it into the stain you're working with, with hot or warm water, then soak it in sink or other container. I'd soak for as little time as possible with the Oxi-Clean but I'd trust the Miracle White soaking for much longer period of time as necessary.I don't sell these products, just a happy consumer.

  6. jkimes | | #8

    Hi Wayne,

    I didn't see this suggestion, so I'll put in my 2 cents. You didn't say anything about the water quality where you live. I went to college in Northern California where we only had well water. The minerals make the water very hard, and make most detergents ineffective. If this is the case, you have a couple of options:
    1. Try using liquid detergent, which is more effective in hard water.
    2. Find somewhere (a friend's house, maybe?) with soft water to wash your clothes. A water softerner, reverse osmosis or rainwater collection results in soft water.

    Good luck!
    Juliette in Texas

    1. User avater
      ehBeth | | #9

      My S.O. had a regular problem with this, to the point I would take my own pillows and pillowcases when I visited.

      I found that if I washed his pillows (worth the trip to the laundramart), then put on two pillowcases (as he's somehow opposed to the concept of a pillow protector), and then washed both pillowcases weekly, we could prevent the sweat/oil/dust build-up from developing.  He could even skip a week or two on the inside pillowcase occasionally without things getting ugly. 

      Hanging the pillowcases out to dry in the sun seemed to help the process along.

    2. WayneL5 | | #10

      The water in my area is hard, but I installed a softener when I bought the house, so now it is very soft.  I noticed much better cleaning in the dishwasher, and it took very much longer to start to get soap scum in the shower.

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