Laundry Stripping Mistakes That Are Ruining Your Clothes

Laundry stripping is a deep-cleaning process that helps remove detergent residue, dirt, and grime, and even remove body oils that regular washing might miss.

However, it’s crucial to do it correctly to avoid common laundry stripping mistakes that could damage your clothes.

In this blog post, we’ll cover:

  • The ins and outs of how to strip laundry effectively.
  • Common mistakes people make and how to avoid laundry stripping mistakes.
  • Plus, some pro tips and additional hacks to make your laundry care routine more efficient.

So, let’s dive right into it.

What is Laundry Stripping?

Laundry stripping is a deep-cleaning technique that involves soaking your laundry in a specialized laundry stripping solution.

The purpose is to remove detergent residue, remove dirt and grime, and remove body oils that may have accumulated over time.

Unlike regular washing in a washing machine, this method targets stubborn residues and gives your clothes a level of cleanness that’s hard to achieve otherwise.

To know more about what laundry stripping is, there is a detailed article here.

Why Do You Need to Strip Your Laundry?

So, why should you consider laundry stripping? First and foremost, it helps freshen laundry that has started to smell musty or stale despite regular washing.

It’s also excellent for brightening laundry that has become dull over time. Specific scenarios where it’s beneficial include:

  • For towels and bed linens that have lost their freshness.When your laundry is starting to smell funky, even after a wash.
  • When your laundry is stained with substances that regular washing can’t remove.
  • When you’ve recently switched laundry detergents and want to ensure all residues from the previous detergent are gone.
  • When you’ve been using fabric softener, which can leave residues that regular washing might not remove.
  • When you’ve been washing your clothes in hard water, which can leave mineral deposits on your fabrics.
  • After a workout, to get rid of odors and sweat residues.
  • For baby clothes that have stubborn stains and odors.

Common Mistakes in Laundry Stripping

Using the Wrong Detergent or Additives

One of the most frequent laundry stripping mistakes is using the wrong detergent or additives in your laundry stripping solution.

Using harsh chemicals or the wrong type of detergent can lead to faded colors, weakened fibers, and even irreversible damage to your clothes.

To avoid this mistake, always opt for a natural laundry detergent and read the instructions on any additives you’re considering.

Not Soaking Your Laundry Long Enough

Another common mistake is not soaking your laundry for an adequate amount of time.

The ideal soaking time for most laundry items is at least 4 hours.

Shorter soaking times may not effectively remove detergent residue, remove dirt and grime, or remove body oils.

This is crucial for achieving truly clean laundry. Failing to soak your laundry long enough can result in a less effective stripping process, leaving you with less-than-fresh results.

Using Too Much Heat

Using excessively hot water is another mistake that people often make when stripping laundry.

While it may seem like hot water would be more effective, too much heat can actually cause colors to bleed and fibers to weaken. 

The safer alternative is to use warm water, which is effective enough to remove dirt and grime without the associated risks.

Not Rinsing Your Laundry Thoroughly

After the soaking process, it’s essential to rinse your laundry thoroughly to remove detergent residue and any dislodged dirt and grime.

A common pitfall is not rinsing enough, which can leave your laundry with a soapy feel and even some lingering odors.

Make sure to rinse multiple times if necessary and consider an extra spin cycle in the washing machine to ensure all residues are gone.

Stripping Delicate Fabrics

Stripping delicate fabrics like silk, wool, or lace is a mistake you’ll want to avoid.

These fabrics are too sensitive for the harsh laundry stripping solution and can get damaged easily.

Always read the care labels on your garments to determine if they are suitable for laundry stripping.

When in doubt, opt for a gentler laundry cleaning method for these delicate items.

Stripping Your Laundry Too Often

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as stripping your laundry too often.

Over-stripping can lead to fabric wear and tear, color fading, and even the breakdown of elastic materials in items like underwear or fitted sheets.

The risks of over-stripping include shortening the lifespan of your garments and linens, which is certainly a mistake you’ll want to avoid.

Signs that you’re stripping too frequently could include:

  • Noticeable fading of colors
  • Weakened fabric that tears easily
  • Elastic bands lose their stretch

Remember, laundry stripping is a deep-cleaning method and not a replacement for your regular laundry routine.

Use it judiciously to freshen laundry and remove stubborn residues, but don’t make it a regular habit.

Pro Tips: How to Avoid Laundry Stripping Mistakes

Use a Mild Detergent and Avoid Harsh Chemicals

To avoid laundry stripping mistakes, it’s crucial to choose the right detergent.

Opt for a natural laundry detergent that is free from harsh chemicals and additives.

This will ensure that your clothes are cleaned effectively without causing any damage. Brands like Seventh Generation and Dr. Bronner’s offer mild yet effective options.

Soak Your Laundry for At Least 4 Hours

The soaking time is crucial for effective laundry stripping.

A minimum of 4 hours is recommended to ensure that the laundry stripping solution has enough time to remove detergent residue, dirt, and body oils.

This will result in clean laundry that smells and looks fresh.

Use Warm Water, Not Hot Water

Warm water, ideally between 100-120 degrees Fahrenheit, is recommended for laundry stripping as it helps to dissolve dirt and grime effectively.

However, always check the care label for specific temperature guidelines to avoid damaging the fabric.

Rinse Your Laundry Thoroughly

After soaking, make sure to rinse your laundry multiple times to remove all residues.

You can do this manually or use an extra rinse cycle in your washing machine.

This ensures that your laundry is not only clean but also free from any laundry stripping solution.

Test the Stripping Solution on an Inconspicuous Area First

Before you go all in, it’s wise to test the laundry stripping solution on a small, hidden area of your garment.

This will help you ensure that the solution won’t damage the fabric or cause colors to bleed.

Only Strip Your Laundry When Necessary

Stripping should not replace your regular laundry routine.

Use it as a deep-cleaning method when you notice signs like lingering odors, dullness, or stubborn residues.

This will help you maintain the quality of your fabrics while ensuring they are as clean as possible.

Consider the type of fabric

Before you begin laundry stripping, it’s essential to consider the type of fabric you’re working with.

Delicate materials like wool and silk require a milder stripping solution, while more robust fabrics like cotton and linen can handle a stronger solution.

Level of dirt and grime should also be considered

The amount of buildup on your clothes will determine the soaking time.

For mildly dirty clothes, a shorter soak may suffice. However, heavily soiled items may require a longer soak, generally ranging from 4-6 hours.


If you’re planning to strip your laundry outdoors, ensure that you’re in a well-ventilated area.

The fumes from the stripping solution can be strong, and it’s best to avoid inhaling them.

Use standard or effective stripping solution

A standard stripping solution consists of 1 cup of borax, 1 cup of washing soda, and 1 gallon of warm water.

For an extra boost in cleaning power and to brighten your clothes, you can add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the mix.

Safety Precautions

Always wear gloves when handling stripping solutions to protect your skin from irritation.

Additionally, keep pets and children away from the soaking area to prevent accidental ingestion or skin contact with the solution.


Ensure you have a large enough basin or bathtub to accommodate the volume of laundry you plan to strip.

The clothes should be fully submerged in the stripping solution for effective cleaning.

When Should You Strip Your Laundry?

Timing is crucial when it comes to laundry stripping.

While it’s a powerful method to freshen laundry and remove detergent residue, it’s not something you should do too frequently.

Here are some ideal conditions and timing for when to strip laundry:

  • Seasonal Changes: As the seasons change, it’s a good time to strip heavier items like blankets and comforters that have been in storage.
  • After Illness: If someone in the household has been sick, stripping bed linens and towels can help get rid of odors and bacteria.
  • Monthly for High-Use Items: Items like gym clothes, reusable diapers, and kitchen towels benefit from a monthly strip to remove accumulated body oils and grime.
  • Quarterly for Regular Clothes: For everyday clothing, doing it once every three months is sufficient to keep them in top condition.
  • When Switching Products: If you’ve recently switched to a new laundry detergent or fabric softener, it’s a good time to strip your laundry to remove any lingering residues from the old products.

By being mindful of when you choose to strip your laundry, you can maximize the benefits while minimizing any risks of damage.

Final Thoughts

Laundry stripping is a powerful method to deep-clean your clothes and linens, but it’s crucial to do it right to avoid common mistakes.

From choosing the right detergent to knowing when and how to strip your laundry, being informed is key.

Remember to use natural laundry detergents, soak for at least 4 hours, and always test the solution on an inconspicuous area first.

With these simple tips and tricks, you can make your laundry care routine more effective and efficient.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of laundry should you not strip?

Avoid stripping colored clothes with unstable dyes and delicate fabrics like spandex, lace, and silk. These materials are sensitive to the harsh stripping process and could get damaged or discolored.

Do you wash after laundry stripping?

Yes, after laundry stripping, it’s advisable to run a full wash cycle without detergent or softener. This ensures that all residues from the stripping solution are completely rinsed out.

What are the three ingredients in laundry stripping?

The typical ingredients for a laundry stripping solution are borax, washing soda, and powdered laundry detergent. These work together to remove stubborn residues and odors.

Can I strip laundry without washing soda?

Yes, you can substitute washing soda with Oxiclean. It’s an effective alternative for breaking down stains and removing residues, making it a suitable component in a stripping solution.

Does vinegar strip laundry?

While vinegar alone doesn’t fully strip laundry, it can be an effective additive. Adding white vinegar to your stripping solution can help freshen and brighten your laundry, as well as remove lingering odors.

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)