Is Laundry Stripping Effective and Safe or just a Trend?

Let’s be honest, Laundry stripping has gained significant attention, becoming a popular trend on social media platforms.

This cleaning method claims to remove detergent build-up, fabric softener build-up, and body oils from your laundry, promising a level of cleanliness that regular washing can’t achieve.

In this article, we will into the effectiveness and myths surrounding laundry stripping.

Let’s do a deep dive and see whether laundry stripping is merely a passing fad or if it offers genuine benefits for your laundry care.

What Does Laundry Stripping Mean?

Laundry stripping simply means a process that deep cleans the clothes by using a solution typically made of Borax, washing soda, and detergent.

This process helps to remove detergent build-up, fabric softener build-up, body oils, and other residues that may accumulate on your clothes, towels, and linens over time.

Unlike regular washing, this method soaks the laundry in a mixture of borax, washing soda, and laundry detergent, usually in hot water, for an extended period.

Also Read: Laundry Stripping Explained (With Laundry Stripping Recipe)

The Rise of Laundry Stripping Trend

How Did it Gain Popularity?

Laundry stripping has taken the internet by storm, particularly on social media platforms like TikTok.

The trend gained traction due to the almost-instant transformation of the bathtub water from crystal-clear to murky brown when clothes are added, sparking both horror and fascination among viewers.

This visual impact has made laundry stripping a subject of viral videos, covering everything from stripping towels to bedsheets.

The trend is not just confined to social media; it has also been covered in various articles and interviews, adding to its credibility and intrigue.

The method’s apparent effectiveness in removing detergent build-up, fabric softener build-up, and body oils has contributed to its rising popularity.

Apart from social media thing, here are a few factors that make laundry stripping a popular choice:

Pandemic Influence: During the pandemic, people have been looking for DIY projects to fill their time, and laundry stripping fits the bill perfectly.

Hard Water Issues: Homes with hard water can cause towels and clothes to become brittle over time. Laundry stripping can help combat this issue, making it popular among homeowners dealing with hard water.

Chemical Concerns: The trend also appeals to those who are concerned about the chemicals in regular detergents and fabric softeners. Laundry stripping offers an alternative that some consider to be more natural and less harmful.

Also Read: Laundry Stripping for Hard Water

Is Laundry Stripping a Hoax?

While there’s no concrete evidence to label laundry stripping as a hoax, the role of celebrities and social media in promoting trends is undeniable.

In the age of Instagram and TikTok, visual transformations often go viral, and laundry stripping is no exception.

The process, which promises to remove detergent build-up, fabric softener build-up, body oils, mildew, mold, stains, and odor, offers a visually satisfying “before and after” that is perfect for social media sharing.

However, the visual appeal alone doesn’t confirm its effectiveness or safety either.

According to Sammy Wang, a senior fabric-care scientist at Procter & Gamble, the dark water often seen on social media reveals is not just dirt; it can also include dye from the fabrics and fibers lost during the stripping process.

Washing soda used in the process can also combine with hard water deposits to create additional residue on fabrics.

To understand whether it’s just a hoax or not, let’s take a quick look at the effectiveness and efficiency of the laundry stripping process.

Investigating Effectiveness

What Does it Remove?

The laundry stripping process involves mixing powerful cleansers together to clean the stubborn stains and dirt.

This process is particularly effective against detergent build-up, fabric softener build-up, body oils, mildew, mold, stains, and odor.

The whole idea behind this process is to restore the original color and texture of fabrics by removing the layers of grime that regular washing may miss.

Does laundry stripping remove deodorant?

Yes, laundry stripping can be effective in removing deodorant stains. Deodorant often leaves a waxy build-up that can be challenging to remove with regular washing. The soaking process in laundry stripping can break down these residues, making it easier to eliminate them.

Does laundry stripping remove oil stains?

Yes, laundry stripping is effective against oil stains. The extended soaking time and the combination of borax, washing soda, and laundry detergent work together to break down oil molecules, lifting them away from the fabric.

Does stripping clothes ruin them?

While laundry stripping is generally considered safe for most fabrics, it can be harsh on delicate materials. The process can lead to fading and damage if not done correctly or too frequently. It’s essential to read the care labels on your clothes and test a small area before fully committing to the process.

Comparative Effectiveness

When it comes to deep cleaning, laundry stripping is often compared to other methods like using white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, or baking soda in the wash.

While these alternatives also aim to remove detergent build-up, fabric softener build-up, and body oils, they may not be as effective in tackling mildew, mold, and stubborn stains.

Laundry stripping’s extended soaking time and specific chemical combination make it uniquely effective for a more thorough clean.

However, it’s worth noting that laundry stripping can be harsher on fabrics, potentially leading to fading and damage.

Is Laundry Stripping Just a Chemical Reaction?

At its core, laundry stripping is indeed a chemical reaction. The mixture of borax, washing soda, and laundry detergent reacts with the stains, body oils, and build-up on the fabric, lifting them away. While the process may seem magical, it’s fundamentally a series of chemical reactions that facilitate deep cleaning.

Laundry Stripping Science

Here’s a scientific breakdown of the laundry stripping process:

Ingredients Used

  • Borax: A natural mineral that converts some water molecules into hydrogen peroxide, which is an excellent cleaner and bleaching agent.
  • Washing Soda (Sodium Carbonate): Alkaline in nature, breaks down acidic grime and oils.
  • Laundry Detergent: Contains surfactants that lower the surface tension of water, making it easier to remove stains.

The Process

  • Hot Water: The process usually starts with filling a bathtub or a large bucket with hot water. Hot water helps to loosen the residues and increases the efficacy of the cleaning agents.
  • Adding Chemicals: Borax, washing soda, and laundry detergent are then added to the hot water.
  • Soaking: The laundry items are soaked in this mixture for several hours.

Laundry Stripping Science

  • Solubility: Hot water increases the solubility of hard-to-remove substances like oils and grime.
  • Chemical Reactions: The alkaline nature of washing soda and borax helps in breaking down acidic grime and body oils. They also react with minerals like calcium and magnesium, making them soluble in water.
  • Surfactants: The laundry detergent contains surfactants that lower the surface tension of water, allowing it to interact with oils and dirt more effectively.
  • Agitation: Stirring the laundry items occasionally helps to dislodge the residues.
  • Osmosis and Diffusion: The concentration gradient between the dirty water in the fabric and the relatively cleaner water in the tub drives the movement of contaminants out of the fabric.
  • Binding and Suspension: The cleaning agents bind to the dirt and residues, keeping them suspended in the water rather than allowing them to re-deposit onto the laundry items.

Are There Any Risks in Laundry Stripping?

While laundry stripping has its merits, it’s essential to be aware of its potential risks and drawbacks.

Potential Risks

Fabric Damage: The chemicals used in laundry stripping can be harsh and may weaken the fibers of the fabric over time. This is particularly concerning for delicate materials like silk, lace, and spandex.

Color Fading: The use of hot water and strong detergents can cause colors to fade more quickly than they would with regular washing.

Limited Frequency: Due to its harsh nature, laundry stripping is not recommended for frequent use. Overuse can lead to fabric damage and reduced lifespan of your textiles.

Allergic Reactions: The chemicals used could potentially cause skin irritation or allergic reactions, especially for those with sensitive skin. Furthermore, ingredients such as borax and washing soda can be irritating to the skin and eyes. Thus, it’s important to handle them carefully and keep them out of reach of children.

Environmental Impact: The chemicals used in laundry stripping can be harmful to the environment if not disposed of properly.

Not Suitable for All Fabrics: Not all types of fabrics are suitable for laundry stripping. For example, wool and certain synthetic fibers may not react well to the process.

It’s important to weigh these risks against the benefits and to follow best practices if you decide to try laundry stripping.

Always read the care labels on your fabrics and perhaps test a small, inconspicuous area before doing a full strip.

Is Laundry Stripping Bad?

Is laundry stripping bad? The answer depends on various factors such as the type of fabric, how often you do it, and whether you follow the correct procedure. Here are some points to consider:

Pros of Laundry Stripping

  • Deep Cleaning: Laundry stripping can effectively remove built-up residue from detergents, fabric softeners, and body oils, giving your fabrics a deep clean.
  • Restores Fabric: It can help restore towels, sheets, and clothes to a more absorbent and soft state.
  • Stain Removal: The process can also help lighten or remove certain types of stains.

Cons of Laundry Stripping

  • Fabric Damage: The chemicals and hot water used can be harsh on fabrics, potentially weakening fibers over time.
  • Color Fading: There’s a risk of colors fading, especially when hot water is used.
  • Limited Frequency: Due to its intense nature, it’s not recommended for frequent use, as this can lead to fabric damage.

So, is laundry stripping bad? It can be both good and bad.

It’s good for an occasional deep clean but could be bad if done too frequently or incorrectly, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution and comes with its own set of risks and drawbacks.

Is Laundry Stripping Worth It?

The worthiness of laundry stripping depends on your specific needs and circumstances. If you’re dealing with persistent stains, odor, or discoloration that regular washing can’t tackle, then laundry stripping may offer a valuable solution.

However, considering the potential risks and drawbacks, such as fabric damage and chemical exposure, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons carefully.

For occasional deep cleaning or tackling specific issues, laundry stripping can be worth the effort.

But for regular laundry care, other less intensive methods may suffice.

Tips for Preventing Laundry Build-Up in the First Place

Prevention is always better than cure, here are some tips to prevent laundry build-up:

  • Regular Maintenance: Regularly clean your washing machine to prevent mildew and mold.
  • Proper Dosing: Use the correct amount of laundry detergent to avoid detergent buildup.
  • Skip the Fabric Softener (If possible): Fabric softeners can lead to fabric softener build-up. Opt for natural alternatives like white vinegar.
  • Cold Wash: Use cold water for regular washing to preserve color preservation and reduce energy consumption.
  • Rinse Well: Ensure that your machine’s rinse cycle is effective in removing all detergent residues.
  • Natural Alternatives: Consider using baking soda or white vinegar as a part of your regular washing routine to prevent build-up.

Final Thoughts

While the method used in the stripping process has its merits, particularly for deep cleaning and tackling stubborn stains and odors, it’s not without its drawbacks.

The process can be harsh on certain fabrics, leading to fading and damage, and also has environmental implications.

Therefore, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for regular laundry care.

To sum up, laundry stripping can be both a trend and a genuinely effective method, depending on your specific needs and how you approach it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do you need to strip laundry?

Stripping laundry can be beneficial for removing build-up and residues that regular washing might miss. It can restore the original color and texture of fabrics, making them feel new again.

What is the formula for stripping towels?

The typical formula for stripping towels involves a mixture of borax, washing soda, and laundry detergent. These ingredients are combined in hot water where the towels are soaked for several hours before washing them.

Can you strip laundry in cold water?

While it’s possible to strip laundry in cold water, hot water is generally more effective in breaking down oils, stains, and build-up.

Does the TikTok laundry stripping work?

The TikTok trend of laundry stripping generally follows the same principles of traditional laundry stripping and can be effective. However, it’s essential to approach it with caution and read the care label as not all fabric can be treated the same way.

Hemant Sarkar is a seasoned techie with a diploma in computer science and an impressive track record of over 15 years in dealing with speakers, kitchen appliances, and various home appliance-related issues. He is widely recognized for his exceptional expertise in repairing dryers and washing machines from all major brands. In addition to his appliance repair prowess, Hemant maintains engaging blogs on topics related to music and speakers. For any inquiries or assistance regarding appliances or tech-related matters, you can reach out to him at: hemant (at)