I tried it, mainly because I happened to have all the ingredients and lots of time on my hands.
What is laundry stripping?
Laundry stripping is essentially soaking similar pieces of laundry in a hot water mixed with different soap ingredients. It is supposed to strip the buildup from machine washing along with dirt and grime our bodies leave on laundry.
OK, I have to be honest…did you watch any of those videos?
The results were disgusting! I was horrified and intrigued at the same time. People were showing bathtubs full of murky, grey water after laundry stripping. I knew I had to try it to see how my results compared.
If you want to try laundry stripping out, here is what you need to know.
Laundry Stripping Supplies
-A clean bathtub. A large bucket or tub works too
-Borax (about 1/4 cup for a bathtub)
-Washing soda (sodium carbonate, also 1/4 cup)
-Laundry detergent (1/2 cup) powdered works best
-Large cooking spoon or something to stir the soaps and eventually the laundry
-As you start to fill the bathtub with hot water, add the three soap ingredients and stir to dissolve.
-Start adding clean laundry after the dry ingredients are mixed together. It is best to soak laundry of similar fabrics and colors together, like towels and washcloths. You don’t want to add so much laundry that you are unable to stir it a few times during the day. Also, keep in mind the laundry will be soaking in hot water for hours, so laundry stripping is not for certain materials such as delicate fabrics. If in doubt, refer to the clothing tag before adding it to the hot water soap mixture.
-You will leave the laundry in the bathtub until the water cools, for me that was the better part of a day. All you need to do is stir the water every couple of hours while it is soaking. This is to help release any buildup that may be in the laundry.
-When the water is cool or cold drain the bathtub water. Wring as much water out of the laundry as you can.
-Put the laundry in the washer and run on a regular wash or rinse cycle. Do not add any detergent or fabric softener.
-Dry according as you would normally. Do not add a dryer sheet.
First I decided to try stripping some of our everyday bath towels and washcloths along with some kitchen towels. After stirring every hour or two I was disappointed the water wasn’t showing any of the murky goodness I was expecting. After about 6 hours I drained the water and washed and dried the towels. I am happy to report that when I took the load out of the dryer the towels and washcloths were noticeably fluffier and softer! They also had no smell. I am not sure about you but sometimes my bathroom and kitchen towels can get a bit of a musty odor to them. So, I would say the laundry stripping process did remove some buildup that had set in.
For my next laundry stripping adventure, I threw all of my husband’s white undershirts in the tub and hoped for the best. I soaked them before I headed to work for the day; my work-from-home husband was instructed to stir his shirts every couple of hours. He texted me around lunchtime to tell me the water was grey. I couldn’t wait to get home to see the results. Needless to say by the time I got home that night the water was a darker shade of grey. It was quite gross.
Success! These were TikTok worthy results for sure. After his shirts were washed and dried they were noticeably lighter and softer. It was a more dramatic result than the towels for sure.
So, all in all, I would say I saw a difference in what I laundry stripped, but it is not something I’ll do on a regular basis. Maybe that is because of my general hatred of cleaning the bathtub which is something you need to do before and after every time you soak anything.
Also, lugging a bathtub full of super heavy, wet towels downstairs to the laundry room was an unexpected challenge. It also took one of our bathtubs out of commission for an entire day. That being said, I could see it helping out with especially smelly or sweaty kid’s clothes and sports uniforms.