What Is Laundry Stripping and Does It Work

No one wants to spend more time and energy on cleaning than they need. This is exactly why most of us toss our laundry in the washer and dryer and call it a day. But sometimes (keyword: sometimes) it may not seem like a standard wash and dry will get the job done. Step into laundry stripping, the latest cleaning method that people – TikTok users in particular – are obsessed with.

Laundry stripping is by no means new: Many people, including the cleaning lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, have used this soaking method for years to remove detergent residue, fabric softeners, and minerals from the laundry. hard water and body oils from textiles. But a viral TikTok before-and-after from MrsLaurenElms has kicked off a cleanup movement in recent months, leading TikToks with #laundrystripping to rack up 18.5 million views.

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It makes sense for this soaking method to take off – TikToks show tubs filled with cloudy brown water after hours of soaking clean laundry. This made many people wonder if they unwittingly wrapped themselves in dirty sheets and towels the whole time.

Much like other trends right now, there are tons of questions about this soaking technique – some are straightforward (can I remove other items besides towels and sheets?), While others are more complicated (is stripping the laundry effective?). Before you hit the tub with borax in hand, read this handy guide from Carolyn Forte, director of the cleaning lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, to determine if this is the most effective cleaning method for your sheets and towels.

What is laundry stripping?

Essentially, laundry stripping is a careful method of soaking that removes the remnants of detergent, fabric softener, hard water minerals, and natural body oils that have built up on textiles over time. The process itself is quite long: the towels and sheets are placed in a bath of hot water, borax, lye (sodium carbonate) and laundry detergent until the water has run out. completely cooled, about four to five hours total.

Over time, the heat from the water causes the dyes to run off, which is why it turns brown or gray. This means it works best on whites, lights and colorfast bath towels and bed sheets. You can still soak colorful textiles – just avoid mixing bright colors with white to avoid accidentally dyeing anything. While linen stripping is suitable for any clothing or bedding that can withstand high temperatures, you should avoid stripping delicate items – a standard wash and dry (or hand wash for some delicate products) should. clean them completely.

How to effectively strip laundry sheets and towels

  1. Fill your tub, sink, or large bucket with hot water. Add borax, baking soda (sodium carbonate) and laundry detergent in a 1: 1: 2 ratio. For a bathtub, add 1/4 cup of borax, 1/4 of baking soda and 1/2 cup of laundry detergent. Stir until it dissolves completely.
  2. Submerge your clean towels or sheets in the mixture and let it soak until the water cools, which usually takes at least four hours. Stir occasionally to release buildup on the towels.
  3. Drain the cloudy water, then toss your towels or linens in your washing machine with a rinse-only cycle. Dryer without dryer sheets.
    1. Does laundry stripping really work?

      In short, you shouldn’t have to regularly remove towels and sheets if you wash them properly. There are instances where stripping the laundry may be necessary, especially if you notice a buildup after washing with a homemade detergent, frequently using dryer sheets or fabric softener, or living in an area of ​​hard water and do not have a water softener installed in your home. Think of it this way: too much of the good stuff (laundry detergent and fabric softener) can sometimes be bad, causing whites to get dark and dirty. Linen stripping is an easy way to breathe new life into towels and linens – or at least, a refreshed look.

      As a general rule of thumb, regularly following smart laundry practices is the recommended cleaning method:

      • Use a deep cleaning detergent like GH Seal Star Tide.
      • Do not overload the washing machine.
      • Do not use too much detergent or fabric softener.
      • Use proper sorting techniques to avoid build-up of residue.
      • If you notice residue or want to prevent buildup, add borax or baking soda to a regular load in the washer.

        The bottom line, according to Forte: “If you have a lot of towels or sheets that need help, this is a good way to resolve them quickly. Then make sure you follow a good laundering routine afterwards, so you don’t have to start over. ! ”


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