Laundry Stripping Explained (With Laundry Stripping Recipe)

Laundry stripping is a method of cleaning laundry, in which detergent buildup, hard water minerals, body oils, and fabric softener residues are removed by using aggressive solutions such as a combination of hot water, borax, washing soda, powdered detergent, or other chemical-based cleaners.

The objective of this process is to remove any buildup that may reduce the effectiveness of the laundry detergent and leave the fabric feeling cleaner and fresher.

In simple words, laundry stripping means cleaning the fabrics thoroughly using aggressive cleaners, or chemical/non-chemical-based solutions.

This method not only deep cleans your laundry but can also help get rid of the most stubborn stains attracted to the garments.

Note: Avoid laundry stripping on delicate items and those that are prone to shrinking and fading, such as natural fibers and non-colorfast items.

Key Takeaways

  • Over time detergents, body oils, hard water minerals, and fabric softeners build up on clothing, large sheets, and towel surfaces.
  • Laundry stripping is a deep-cleaning technique that can be used to get rid of accumulated detergent, fabric softener, oils, and other residues from your clothes.
  • Laundry stripping can be done by filling a tub or basin with hot water, followed by adding a laundry stripping solution, agitating the clothes, and then allowing them to soak for some time. Next, drain the water and rinse the clothes thoroughly, repeat the process if necessary.

What Is Laundry Stripping? (In-depth explanation)

Laundry stripping is a deep-cleaning process that aims to remove mineral deposits, dirt, oils, and soap residue from your laundry items.

Unlike regular washing, which merely cleans the surface of your fabrics, laundry stripping works to extract the substances that have become deeply embedded in the fibers over time.

The process involves soaking your laundry in a mixture of cleaning agents for an extended period, allowing the agents to penetrate the fabric and dissolve the accumulated grime.

The Basic Concept

The concept behind laundry stripping is straightforward yet effective.

You fill a large container, be it a bathtub, sink, or bucket with hot water and add a specific combination of cleaning agents.

These usually include borax, washing soda, and laundry detergent.

Once the solution is prepared, you submerge your laundry items in it, ensuring they are fully soaked.

The cleaning agents work in tandem to break down and lift away the dirt, oils, and residues that regular washing might miss.

As the laundry soaks, you’ll often see the water turning murky or even taking on a darker hue.

This is a visual indicator that the stripping process is working, pulling out all the undesirables from your fabrics.

After soaking for a designated period, usually a few hours, the laundry is then thoroughly rinsed and dried.

Purpose of Laundry Stripping

The primary purpose of laundry stripping is to rejuvenate your laundry items and extend their lifespan.

Here are some specific reasons why you might consider laundry stripping:

  • Removing Build-up: Over time, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, and hard water can leave behind residues that accumulate in the fibers of your clothes, towels, and linens. This build-up can make your items feel less soft and look less vibrant.
  • Restoring Brightness and Softness: Laundry stripping can help restore the original brightness and softness of your items, making them feel almost like new again.
  • Eliminating Odors: If your laundry items have persistent odors that regular washing can’t remove, laundry stripping may be the solution. The deep-cleaning process can help eliminate lingering smells.
  • Enhancing Cleaning Efficiency: Sometimes, the build-up in your laundry can interfere with the effectiveness of your regular washing. By stripping your laundry, you can improve the efficiency of your regular cleaning routine.
  • Sustainability: By rejuvenating your existing laundry items, you can extend their usability, thereby reducing the need for frequent replacements. This is not only cost-effective but also better for the environment.

Is laundry stripping effective?

The chemical solution of borax, powdered detergent, and washing soda, when combined or mixed with hot water, results in a highly effective solution that removes body oils, dirt, fabric softener residues, and detergent buildup from clothes.

That being said, don’t forget to check if the hot water soak and the cleaning solution are safe for your fabric by checking the label first.

How to make laundry stripping solutions at home? (Laundry Stripping Recipe)

There are many ways to prepare a laundry stripping solution.

A laundry stripping solution basically needs two things hot water and a powerful cleaning agent.

Here are a few items that can make a great laundry stripping solution when combined with hot water:

  • Borax
  • Oxygen Bleach
  • Washing Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Laundry stripping detergents.

Method to make a laundry stripping solution

Fill a tub, large container, or sink with hot water, followed by pouring detergent and any of the above-mentioned solutions.

For instance, if you want to make a laundry stripping solution using hot water, vinegar, and detergent, fill a sink or tub with hot water and add 1 cup of white vinegar and 1 cup of detergent for every gallon of hot water.

Likewise, to make a solution by combining borax, washing soda, and laundry detergent, fill a tub or large container with hot water, followed by adding 1/4 cup of borax, 1/4 cup of washing soda, and 1 cup of laundry detergent, and mixing them together.

Note: While preparing a stripping solution, don’t mix vinegar with baking soda.

How to do Laundry Stripping Safely?

Step 1: Fill the washtub or sink

Start by filling your bathtub or a large basin with hot water. The water should be as hot as the fabric can tolerate.

Step 2: Add Laundry stripping solution

Add a laundry stripping solution or a combination of washing soda, powdered detergent, and borax to the water. You can also add liquid disinfectants if you wish to do so.

The amount of solution to use will depend on the size of the basin or tub, the laundry size, and the fabric type.

Step 3: Put your Laundry in

Add your laundry to the water and use your hands to agitate the clothes, making sure they are fully submerged in the water.

Step 4: Let the fabrics soak overnight

Allow the clothes to soak for at least 30 minutes, or even overnight for heavily soiled clothes.

Step 5: Work on the fabric

The next step is to work on the fabric with your fingers. If the fabric can tolerate a light brush, use a soft brush to work on the stains.

Step 6: Drain the water and rinse

Drain the water and rinse the clothes thoroughly under clean running water, then wash the clothes as you normally would using your regular detergent, and dry them completely.

Repeat the process if necessary until your clothes are free of any residue.

Step 7: Dry the fabric

The last step is to dry the laundry using your regular dryer settings, or, if the fabric is delicate, you can air dry it.

Is laundry stripping safe?

Laundry stripping is not safe if you try to follow a one-size-fits-all strategy. Not all fabrics are created equal; some can be harmed if you use the same cleaning solution and hot water on them, while for some it works wonders.

Laundry stripping is generally considered safe when done properly, but as with any cleaning method, it is important to follow the instructions on the care label of the fabric as well as the usage instructions on the product you are using.

Some of the ingredients used in laundry stripping solutions, such as baking soda, washing soda, oxygen bleach, and vinegar, are considered safe for use in laundry in general.

However, some fabrics may be prone to shrinking when exposed to hot water, and some may fade when exposed to certain ingredients.

It is, therefore, extremely important to read the care label of the fabric and, based on that, try to balance the potency of the solution.

You cannot use hot water and bleach if the fabric is very delicate.

For delicate fabrics and fabrics that break when exposed to hot water, you may need to change the strategy and opt for a gentler option like cold water and mild solutions.

Lastly, you should also keep in mind that if you have sensitive skin or allergies, it’s better to use a laundry stripping solution that is free from harsh chemicals.

How often should you strip your laundry?

The ideal frequency of performing the laundry stripping exercise depends on several factors, such as how often you use detergent, the type of detergent and fabric softener you use, the type of water you use (hard or soft water), and the type of clothes you have.

Generally, it is recommended to strip your laundry once every three to six months or as needed.

If you use a lot of detergents or fabric softeners, or if you have hard water, you may need to strip your laundry more frequently.

Also, if you have sensitive skin or if the clothes are not looking as clean or fresh as they should, you may need to adjust the stripping frequency accordingly.

Ultimately, the right frequency of stripping the laundry will depend on your individual laundry habits and the condition of your clothes.

Can you strip laundry in a washing machine?

While stripping usually requires soaking your laundry in hot water and cleaning solutions for longer, you can still use a top-load washer to get the closest possible experience to stripping.

The overall process is similar to stripping laundry in a tub or sink, but with a few adjustments to the method.

Here is a general guideline for stripping laundry in a washing machine:

  • Fill the washing machine with the hottest water appropriate for the type of fabric.
  • Add the appropriate amount of washing soda, baking soda, or borax and laundry detergent according to the size of your load.
  • Add your clothes and let them soak for 30 minutes in the washtub and drain the washing machine.
  • Refill the washtub with hot water and add 1 cup of white vinegar this time. Next, run the washing machine on the longest cycle, with an extra rinse cycle if possible.
  • Once the wash cycle is complete, run another short cycle on the hottest water setting with no detergent to rinse the clothes thoroughly.
  • Dry the laundry as you normally would.

Tips for getting the best results from laundry stripping

Because laundry stripping is a method for deep cleaning your laundry and removing the buildup of detergent, hard water minerals, body oils, and fabric softener residues using aggressive methods, certain details such as the temperature of the water, the agitation time, and the amount of cleaning agents used must be taken into consideration.

Here are a few helpful tips that will ensure you get the best results from laundry stripping.

Read the care label

Regardless of the type of fabric you are washing, it’s important to read the care label once.

The care label will have clear instructions on the type of detergent and the method of wash that need to be used to keep the fabric clean.

Based on the instructions on the care label, you can come up with a plan to strip the fabric.

Use the appropriate amount of cleaning agents

Using the appropriate amount of cleaning agents is important for getting the best results.

Too little, and the solution may not be effective; too much, and it could damage the clothes or the washing machine.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions or the guidelines provided on the usage instruction label on the package.

Temperature of water

The temperature of the water plays a key role in safely performing the laundry stripping process.

Hot water is often advised because it helps in dissolving the cleaning agents and removes germs, grime, and stains.

However, it is important to note that certain fabrics should not be washed in hot water. So, it is important to read the care label instructions on your laundry items and choose the right temperature accordingly.


Agitating the laundry in the solution is an important step in the laundry stripping process, as it helps to loosen and remove any buildup or residues.

It is recommended to agitate the laundry for some time until the fabric has absorbed the water properly.

Note: A longer agitation time may be needed for clothes with heavy buildup.

Rinse thoroughly

After agitating the laundry in the solution, it’s important to let the laundry settle in the solution for at least 30 minutes.

If possible, leave the fabric soaked in the cleaning solution overnight.

Once the fabric is sufficiently soaked, rinse it thoroughly to remove any remaining cleaning agents, dirt, or stains.

You may have to repeat the process several times to get the best results.

Dry the laundry

After rinsing, dry the laundry as you normally would.

If the fabric qualifies for machine drying, dry it according to the instructions on the care label.

And if you are confused by the drying process, it’s best to hang your clothes on a clothesline or a drying rack.

Test the cleaning solution

Before starting the laundry stripping process, it’s recommended that you first test the solution in a hidden area of the fabric.

Doing this will give you an idea of how your fabric will react to the cleaning solution before you proceed with the whole process.

Final Thoughts

Laundry items that lose their absorbency over time, like towels and sheets, can benefit from being stripped to regain their absorbency and appearance.

Laundry stripping can be done using a variety of products, including baking soda, vinegar, borax, washing soda, and commercial laundry stripping solutions.

It’s important to remember that laundry stripping is not a mandatory requirement. You only need it when the fabric has lost its luster and you need to restore it.

You can avoid laundry stripping if you wash your laundry items the right way each time you launder them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is laundry stripping necessary?

Laundry stripping is not necessary and is only needed if there’s an excess buildup of fabric softeners, hard water minerals, laundry detergent, dirt, and stains.

What items are safe for laundry stripping?

Heavy laundry items such as towels, blankets, mattresses, sheets, and pillows are all safe for laundry stripping. However, it’s important to read the care label before coming up with a plan of action for laundry stripping.

Can I Laundry strip with just detergent?

While detergents are great for performing regular washes, stripping your laundry with just detergents may not be effective enough to break down the build-up. You need a stronger solution to break down the fabric softener residues, body oils, and stubborn stains.

How do you strip laundry naturally?

To strip laundry naturally, soak fabrics in a mixture of hot water, 1 cup of baking soda, and 2 cups of white vinegar for at least 4 hours. Drain, rinse thoroughly, and dry as usual. This removes detergent residues and odors.

Manish Singh is an expert in electrical engineering with a Diploma in the field. With over 12 years of experience, he specializes in repairing music systems, washing machines, dryers, and other laundry-related appliances. His in-depth knowledge in electrical repairs and decent knowledge about garment care makes him a trusted authority in the field of appliance repair and laundry related topics. If you have any questions or need assistance with your appliances, you can reach out to Manish through email: manish.singh (at)