What is Laundry Stripping and Does it Work?

If you’re on the internet a lot, chances are you’ve already seen the hot new trend in the laundry world. It’s called laundry stripping and it’s giving traditional methods of washing a run for their money.

Laundry stripping does make the task all the more time-consuming, but you get the best benefit that comes out of doing laundry: the cleanest clothes, towels, and sheets you could ever have your whole life.

What Is Laundry Stripping?

Laundry stripping is essentially a thorough process of soaking that removes any remaining detergent, fabric softener, minerals from hard water, and natural body oils that have accumulated on textiles over time. The process itself is quite lengthy: Towels and sheets are placed in a tub of hot water, borax, washing soda (sodium carbonate), and laundry detergent for four to five hours, or until the water has completely cooled.


The heat of the water allows the dyes to run overtime, which is why it turns brown or gray. That means it is most effective on whites, light colors, and colorfast bath towels and bedsheets. Color textiles can also be soaked; just don’t combine vivid colors with whites to prevent inadvertently dyeing anything. Though laundry stripping is appropriate for any clothing or bedding that can tolerate high temperatures, you should avoid stripping delicate pieces — a standard wash and dry (or hand-wash for certain delicates) should clean them thoroughly.

How to Effectively Strip Sheets and Towels

Although the four-step laundry stripping process is straightforward, the process as a whole can be incredibly time-consuming, lasting much longer than a standard washing machine cycle. Pick the objects to be stripped before beginning the procedure. You should be careful of what you want to strip as well as the things you choose to strip together. Basic laundry laws apply, so read the washing instructions for each item (laundry stripping is a hot water treatment) and correctly group which items to be stripped together (darks vs. whites).

It’s best to begin the process with clean laundry. Before moving the products to the stripping solution, run a regular cycle in the washing machine. They do not need to be dry after the cycle or before soaking. Take the following steps after your items have been cleaned and are ready to soak:

Step 1: Create the Solution

To create the solution, you will need Borax, washing soda (sodium carbonate), laundry detergent with enzymes, and Calgon®.


Step 2: Fill a Large Tub/Bathtub

Load the container of choice with hot water, whether it’s a big bin or a bathtub. The hotter it is, the better. Make sure you have enough water to completely cover a load of laundry you’ll be stripping. When the tub is full, add the solution, thoroughly mix it, and set it aside to dissolve.

Step 3: Add Laundry and Soak

Add the clean laundry to the tub after the solution has been dissolved. Fully immerse and soak for four hours in hot water mixed with the solution. The water may become darker and murkier as the items soak for a longer period of time. This is normal and indicates that the stripping is working.

Step 4: Rinse and Enjoy

After four hours, drain the tub and squeeze excess water from each item. Then, using a rinse cycle without detergent, run the stripped laundry into the washing machine. Dry each object as usual, then enjoy the new-found cleanliness and a completely fresh load of laundry.

Things You Should Avoid Strip Washing

Strip washers often advise that the process will allow dyes to run. As a result, you should stick to white bath towels and bedsheets. If you use the technique on colored clothes, avoid matching a red shirt with white socks—you might end up with dyed clothing.


This technique should not be used on delicate or fragile items. This method necessitates the use of hot water, so read the care tag on each item first.

Should You Strip Wash Your Laundry?

One of the main reasons many cleaning bloggers have begun strip washing their laundry is because they make their own laundry soap. Making your own laundry detergent will help you eliminate additives and plastic packaging, as well as potentially save money, but these formulations don’t always wash off clothing as well as store-bought detergents. If your sheets or towels come out of the wash sticky or less absorbent, regardless of whether you use handmade or store-bought detergent, you may want to reduce the amount of detergent you use. It might seem counterintuitive, but adding more detergent would not make the laundry cleaner. In reality, soap residue that isn’t washed away collects dust and dirt.

Start by changing your laundry routine if you feel like your laundry has to be strip washed due to buildup. Try using less detergent (follow the manufacturer’s instructions), a different detergent, and skip the fabric softener. Laundry stripping is a simple yet time-consuming task; use these alternatives to prevent it.

But if you’re currently quarantined at home, have some free time, and want to see how much residue has accumulated on your household linens, go ahead and consider laundry stripping.