Laundry Stripping vs. Traditional Washing: Which is best?

Laundry is a household chore we all have to tackle, but how we go about it can vary.

Two popular methods are traditional washing and laundry stripping.

Traditional washing involves using washing machines and dryers to clean clothes, linens, and other fabrics.

On the other hand, laundry stripping is a soaking method designed to remove residue, dirt, and grime that regular washing might miss.

In this article, we’ll compare these two methods in terms of effectiveness, safety, and convenience to help you make an informed choice for your fabric care needs.

Effectiveness and Efficiency (Laundry Stripping and Traditional washing)

How Effective is Traditional Washing?

Traditional washing is a tried-and-true method for tackling a variety of stains and odors.

From food spills to sweat marks, washing machines combined with effective detergents can usually get the job done.

However, some types of stains, like oil-based or deeply set-in marks, may require pre-treatment.

Odor removal is generally effective, especially when using specialized detergents or fabric softeners.

How Effective is Laundry Stripping?

Laundry stripping is particularly effective for removing buildup that accumulates over time. This includes dirt, grime, residue from detergents, and hard water deposits. It’s a deep-cleaning method that can rejuvenate towels, sheets, and even clothes that have lost their freshness.

Does Laundry Stripping Remove Deodorant?

Yes, laundry stripping can be effective in removing deodorant stains and buildup. The soaking process helps to break down the waxy and oily components of deodorant, making it easier to remove them from the fabric.

Does Laundry Stripping Actually Work?

Yes, laundry stripping is a proven method for removing stubborn residue, stains, and odors that traditional washing may not fully eliminate. However, its effectiveness can vary based on the fabric type, water hardness, and the ingredients used in the laundry stripping process.

Also Read: Performing Laundry Stripping for hard water

Head-to-Head Comparison

Laundry Stripping vs. Traditional Washing

Conventional laundry practices are what many are accustomed to.

Leveraging both a washer and a dryer offers a practical and effective solution for tackling daily grime, blemishes, and odors.

A majority of washers these days come equipped with multiple options to cater to diverse fabric types.

However, even the best washing machines can leave behind some residue or fail to remove deeply embedded grime.

Laundry stripping, in contrast, is a specialized deep-cleaning technique.

It’s not meant for everyday cleaning but rather for periodic deep cleaning.

It’s particularly effective for towels that have become less absorbent, sheets that feel less fresh, or clothes that have lost their vibrancy.

Soaking your clothes in a cleaning solution for a while can make them look and feel brand new again, even if you thought they passed their prime.

Laundry Stripping vs. Oxiclean

Laundry stripping and OxiClean serve similar purposes but operate on different principles.

OxiClean is a powerful stain remover that uses oxygen-based cleaning agents.

You can add it to your washing machine along with your regular detergent, or use it as a pre-soak or spot treatment.

It’s particularly effective for stain removal like wine, ink, or grass stains.

However, Oxiclean is not specifically designed to remove residue or buildup from detergents and fabric softeners.

On the other hand, laundry stripping is a soaking method that aims to remove not just stains but also long-term residue, hard water deposits, and detergent buildup.

It’s a more holistic approach to fabric care, especially for items like towels and sheets that may have lost their absorbency or softness over time.

The process involves soaking your fabrics in a mixture of cleaning agents, allowing for a deep clean that regular washing might miss.

Methods and Ingredients

Traditional Washing Methods

Traditional washing primarily involves the use of washing machines and dryers.

The process starts with sorting your clothes, linens, and other fabrics based on color and material.

Detergents, fabric softeners, and sometimes bleach or other additives are used to enhance cleaning and odor removal.

Most washing machines offer different cycles and settings to accommodate various fabric types and soil levels.

After washing, the fabrics are usually transferred to a dryer, although air-drying is also an option.

Laundry Stripping Methods

Laundry stripping is a more hands-on approach to fabric care.

The primary approach to the stripping process is to fill a sizable tub or container with warm water combined with cleaning elements such as detergent, borax, and washing soda. This technique aims to eliminate accumulated deposits, remnants, and dirt, especially noticeable in items like towels, linens, and aged apparel.

How do you do laundry stripping?

Preparation: First, gather all the fabrics you want to strip. This could include towels, sheets, clothes, or linens. Make sure to read any care labels to ensure the items are suitable for this type of deep cleaning.

Mixing the Cleaning Agents: Fill a bathtub, laundry sink, or large basin with hot water. Next, add a mixture of cleaning agents, which usually includes laundry detergent, washing soda, and borax. The exact proportions can vary, but a common ratio is 1/4 cup of each ingredient for a standard-sized bathtub.

Soaking: Submerge your fabrics in the water and cleaning agent mixture. Make sure they are fully saturated and stir them occasionally to ensure even cleaning.

Stirring: Every hour or so, give the items a good stir. This helps to dislodge any residue and ensures that the cleaning agents are effectively penetrating the fabrics.

Rinsing and Drying: After soaking, drain the tub and rinse your fabrics thoroughly with clean water. This is crucial to remove any remaining detergent or cleaning agents. Finally, you can either air-dry the items or use a dryer.

Observation: You’ll likely notice that the water has turned a different color, indicating the removal of dirt, grime, and residue. This is a sign that the laundry stripping process has worked.

How long to soak in the laundry stripping process?

The soaking time can vary based on how much buildup you’re dealing with, but generally, a soak of 4-6 hours is recommended for effective laundry stripping.

Common Ingredients in Traditional Washing

In traditional washing, the most commonly used ingredients are laundry detergent, which contains surfactants to remove dirt and stains, and fabric softener to improve the feel of fabrics.

Bleach may be used for whites and disinfecting, while specialized stain removers can be applied for stubborn stains.

Ingredients in Laundry Stripping

In Laundry Stripping, the common ingredients include detergent, washing soda, and borax.

Collectively, these elements act to dissolve and clear away residue, dirt, and grime from fabrics.

Laundry Stripping with Vinegar

Vinegar is a versatile cleaning agent that can be a useful addition or alternative in the laundry stripping process.

It is particularly effective at breaking down residue from detergents and fabric softeners, as well as mineral deposits from hard water.

How to Use vinegar for laundry stripping?

To use vinegar in laundry stripping, replace one of the cleaning agents, like borax, with white vinegar. A common ratio is 1/4 cup of laundry detergent, 1/4 cup of washing soda, and 1/4 cup of white vinegar for a standard-sized bathtub filled with hot water.

Benefits of using vinegar

Vinegar is also a natural deodorizer and can help with odor removal.

It’s especially useful for fabrics that have a lingering smell that traditional washing hasn’t been able to remove.


While vinegar is generally safe for most fabrics, it can cause fading in some colored materials.

Always test a small, inconspicuous area first if you’re concerned about dye stability.

Laundry Stripping with Baking Soda

Baking soda is another household item that can be used in laundry stripping.

It’s known for its deodorizing properties and can also soften water, enhancing the effectiveness of the other cleaning agents.

How to Use?

To incorporate baking soda, you can add it alongside your other cleaning agents. A typical ratio might be 1/4 cup each of laundry detergent, washing soda, and baking soda in a bathtub of hot water.

Benefits of using baking soda in the laundry stripping process

Baking soda can help to neutralize odors and break down stains and buildup.

It’s a good option for fabrics that have a musty smell or have been stored for a long time.

Furthermore, it is generally safe to use on all types of fabrics, including colored, dyed, and delicate materials.

However, as with any cleaning agent, it’s advisable to do a patch test first to ensure there’s no damage or fading.

Safety and Eco-Friendliness

Is Traditional Washing Safe?

Traditional washing is generally considered safe for most fabrics and clothing items. However, the safety largely depends on the detergents and fabric softeners you use. Some may contain harsh chemicals or fragrances that could irritate sensitive skin or cause fading in colored fabrics.

Always read the labels and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for fabric care.

Is Laundry Stripping Safe?

Laundry stripping is also generally safe, but there are some precautions to consider. The process involves the use of strong cleaning agents that could be harsh on delicate fabrics. Always check the care labels on your clothes, linens, and towels before proceeding.

Is Laundry Stripping Safe for Colors?

When it comes to colored fabrics, laundry stripping can be a bit risky. The process may lead to fading or bleeding of dyes. It’s advisable to test a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric before fully immersing it in the stripping solution.

Time and Convenience

How Long Does Traditional Washing Take?

The time required for traditional washing can vary depending on the washing machine and the settings chosen. However, a standard wash and dry cycle usually takes about 1 to 2 hours. This doesn’t include the time for sorting clothes, pre-treating stains, or folding and putting away linens and fabrics. Despite these additional tasks, traditional washing is generally considered convenient and time-efficient for regular cleaning needs.

How Long Does Laundry Stripping Take?

Laundry stripping is a more time-consuming process. The soaking alone can take between 4 to 6 hours, as mentioned earlier. A typical laundry stripping process, including preparation, soaking, rinsing, and drying, can take up to 8 hours or even more depending on the drying method used.

While laundry stripping is effective for deep cleaning, it’s not as convenient as traditional washing for everyday laundry needs.

It’s more of a periodic deep-cleaning method rather than a regular laundry routine.

Key Differences and Similarities

  • Effectiveness: Laundry stripping is more effective for removing long-term buildup, while traditional washing is sufficient for regular cleaning.
  • Safety: Both methods are generally safe but require attention to fabric care labels and detergent choices.
  • Time and Convenience: Traditional washing is quicker and more convenient for regular laundry, whereas laundry stripping is a periodic deep-cleaning method.

Final Thoughts

Both laundry stripping and traditional washing have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages.

Traditional washing is quick, convenient, and effective for everyday dirt, stains, and odors.

However, it may not always remove all the residue and buildup that accumulate over time.

On the other hand, laundry stripping offers a deep-cleaning solution that can rejuvenate towels, sheets, and other fabrics, but it is more time-consuming and may not be suitable for all types of materials.

For regular fabric care, traditional washing is the way to go.

However, for items that have lost their freshness or absorbency, or for those looking to tackle stubborn residue and grime, laundry stripping can be an effective solution.

Just be sure to weigh the pros and cons of laundry stripping and consider factors like fabric type, water hardness, and detergent effectiveness before diving in.

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)