Disgusting, Yet Satisfying: How to Strip Your Laundry

Disgusting, Yet Satisfying:  How to Strip Your Laundry

I recently came across a new cleaning technique — Laundry Stripping. And I am in awe! As someone who loves cleaning and organizing, as well as instant results, I was intrigued to learn more.

So, I teamed up with Dr. Elizabeth Mullans, a Board-Certified Dermatologist out of Houston, Texas, to find out more about laundry stripping. And, after giving it a try on our towels at home, I have to say I am hooked!

Our towels feel so much more fresh and absorbent than before. This was a great way to bring life back to old towels on a small budget.

What is laundry stripping and how does it work?

yellow, gray, blue towels soaking in a tub

“Laundry stripping is a soaking method designed to deep-clean your laundry, with the intent to remove built-up residue from detergent, hard water, body oils, and fabric softener,” reports Dr. Mullans.

Laundry stripping helps to bring life back to laundry, allowing textiles to feel fresh again. Even as someone who avoids fabric softener and uses a gentle, scent-free, dye-free laundry detergent regularly, laundry stripping was the extra boost I needed to get my linens feeling really clean and pure.

What supplies do I need for laundry stripping?

A box of borax, a box of tide, a box of laundry booster, and a bottle of calgon water softener.
  • A clean bathtub, large bucket, or washing machine for soaking laundry
  • HOT water – as hot as you can get
  • Stripping ingredients
  • Clean laundry
  • Mixing tool – you can use your hand, but I found a broom handle was the easiest way to stir laundry

What’s the best method for laundry stripping?

  1. Fill the bathtub, bucket, or washing machine with the hottest water possible. I like to let the water run until the water gets really hot, then I plug the tub.
  2. Add each of the following products to the hot water:
  3. Once the mixture has dissolved in hot water, add your just-washed laundry, wet or dry.
  4. Let the laundry soak until the water has cooled, which will typically take 4-6 hours.
  5. Stir your laundry once every hour. I always set a timer because it’s easy for me to forget about it.
  6. After the water has cooled, drain the tub/bucket/washing machine, and squeeze out excess water from your laundry. I recommend using rubber gloves to avoid drying out your skin.
  7. Transport laundry back to the washing machine, using a basket or bucket, and wash the laundry on a full, but water-only cycle.
  8. Dry your laundry as you usually would, either in the dryer or hang to dry.
  9. Enjoy your fresh laundry!

What should I avoid with laundry stripping?

Basket of laundry with white linens and a red article of clothing

“If you do try the method on colorful clothing, avoid mixing a red shirt with white socks—or else you could end up with accidentally dyed clothing,” recommends Dr. Mullans. Sorting items beforehand, based on color, is a great way to avoid mixing dyes and ruining laundry.

Why does the water turn a different color?

Three photo progressions of laundry stripping after 1 hour, after 4 hours, and after 6 hours.

The water may turn brown or gray from all the grime removed from your laundry. All of the minerals from hard water, residue from detergents and other cleaning products, and body oils transfer from your laundry to the water. I found it super satisfying that the water got darker each hour that my laundry soaked.

Will laundry stripping irritate sensitive skin?

One box of Arm & Hammer Free of Perfume & Dyes; One box of Tide Detergent

Dr. Mullans recommends sticking to a laundry detergent you are used to if you have sensitive skin. Arm & Hammer Powder laundry detergent that is free of dyes and perfumes is great for sensitive skin. I prefer Tide because it has worked well for us. Also, try to avoid laundry stripping on delicate items as it may compromise the material, making them irritable against your skin.

Will laundry stripping damage my clothing?

Pink lace fabric with a care tag with details

You want to be picky with the items you put through the stripping process. Sometimes, dyes can run, which may ruin clothing. Remember, you are soaking things in hot water, so you don’t want to put in any items that may get ruined by the high temperature. Check each item’s care label first to avoid damaging an article of clothing.

It’s ideal to stick with linens and bedsheets. But I’ve seen examples of people stripping their workout clothes, which seems like it would be quite satisfying too.

How Often Should I Strip My Laundry?

Annual calendar with dates circles every 3 months and every 6 months

Clothing, worn regularly, should be stripped every three months.

Towels, blankets, and linens should be stripped every six months.

So, what do you think? Does it gross you out? Does it seem satisfying? Want to try it out? Ready to join me in this residue removing, deep cleaning, satisfying activity? I’d love to hear about your laundry stripping experience, share it with me below!

Not wanting to invest in boxes of laundry stripping supplies? I put together a single-use package of laundry stripping powder that I can ship to your home. Check out my homemade laundry stripping powder, in my Etsy shop here! Or click on the photo below.

4 Ingredients for laundry stripping, the words "Disgusting, yet satisfying, how to strip your laundry, and on bottom is two pictures of tub with dirty water after stripping
three bags of laundry stripping powder

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