Laundry Stripping: An Oddly Satisfying Process

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My friends tell me I need a new hobby when I tell them that I’m obsessed with a trendy laundry process! It’s not as sexy as it sounds, but laundry stripping is oddly satisfying and I’m now working my way through every sheet and towel in the house.

I read about laundry stripping during the COVID-19 lockdown. It was trending on social media because people had lots of time on their hands to let laundry soak for hours and then document the disturbing aftermath! The idea resonated with me because during lockdown we went through soooo many towels, especially hand towels. And even though I’m pretty good at keeping up with the laundry, my towels started to have a slight stink to them. While my mom would tell me it was because I overloaded my washing machine, I thought what the heck, let’s do some stripping.

BEFORE

The purpose of laundry stripping is to remove the buildup left behind from laundry detergent and fabric softener over time. You do this by soaking your clean laundry for at least three hours in hot water in a mixture of Borax, washing soda and powdered detergent. You can do it in a tub or your washing machine basin. You swirl the water a couple of times during the process and when you are done, you will be shocked and maybe a little grossed out by what the water looks like. To be perfectly honest, or maybe just to make me feel less gross by the aftermath, I think the water absorbs some of the color from the materials because in a soak of brown towels, the water did have a brownish hue and in a load with turquoise towels the water was greenish. That being said, it was satisfying to think that I just did a deep clean and it was a pretty easy process.

After draining the bath tub, and letting the kids walk on the wet towels to help squeeze out the excess water, I did a water only rinse in the washing machine. Afterwards I was thrilled to not smell anything off in my towels. They seemed lighter, softer and overall cleaner.

So far I’ve done all of the towels in my house and sports bras. I’m moving on to sheets. If you try your take at laundry stripping, keep whites separate because colors can mix. It’s also not a process that you’re supposed to do very often, think of it as a deep clean every once in a while. I hope it’s a hobby you take up as well! Happy stripping!

How to Strip You Laundry

  • ¼ cup Borax
  • ¼ cup Washing Soda
  • ¼ cup Powdered Detergent (many instructions call for Tide specifically, but I used Free and Clear All detergent powder and it worked well)

1. Fill bathtub or large container with hot water and add the ingredients.
2. Add laundry, let it soak for 3-4 hours, stirring the water once or twice. The dirt and buildup with discolor the water.
3. Drain water, wring out excess liquid and do a final rinse in your washing machine on a water only cycle.
4. Enjoy!