Laundry Stripping Recipe (That Gets Crazy Amounts of Nastiness Out of Your Clothes & Linens!) (2024)

Late last year I tried laundry stripping for the first time and after seeing the nastiness it got out of our sheets & towels, I was hooked! It’s really simple to do (and honestly kind of addictive 🙈) so today I’m sharing the laundry stripping recipe and the step by step for getting the job done! (post includes affiliate links; full disclosure statement available {here})

What is Laundry Stripping?

While you might not be able to see it, over time your clothes and linens develop a build-up of residue from body oils, laundry detergent, and fabric softener. Laundry stripping is the deep cleaning process of stripping all of that residue away. The amount of nastiness that you can get out of your “clean” laundry through the laundry stripping process is both amazing and horrifying all at the same time 😂! It’s as simple as soaking your laundry for several hours and then throwing it in your washer and dryer – I’ll share the laundry stripping recipe along with the step by step of the laundry stripping process.

Laundry Stripping Recipe

The laundry strip recipe or formula is pretty simple. It’s a 1:1:2 ratio of Borax, washing soda, and powdered laundry detergent. For a standard bathtub that’s filled about ½ full with hot water, add:

¼ cup Borax Detergent Booster (available {here})

¼ cup Washing Soda (available {here})

½ cup powdered laundry detergent – I use Tide (available {here})

Optional – ¼ cup Calgon (available {here})

Laundry Stripping Recipe (That Gets Crazy Amounts of Nastiness Out of Your Clothes & Linens!) (1)

The Calgon (which is a water softener) is something you should consider adding if you have hard water. For some reason it’s been out of stock pretty much everywhere for a while now plus our water isn’t that hard so I haven’t used when I’ve done laundry stripping. But if you have hard water and can get your hands on some, definitely throw it into the mix!

How to Strip your Laundry Step by Step

1. Gather the Items You Want to Strip

Gather up the items that you want to strip – towels, sheets, and workout clothes are some of the most common items to strip but anything that’s machine washable in hot water is fair game! If it’s something that you’ve sweated in a lot or just worn or used the heck out of, chances are there’s a good bit of detergent build-up along with the build-up of oils and other human nastiness. You do laundry stripping on clean clothes (which makes it all the more crazy how much yuck you’ll see come out of them!).

I’m going to strip a set of sheets, some older towels that my sensitive nose thinks have a slight smell to them when wet, and my daughter’s duvet cover:

Laundry Stripping Recipe (That Gets Crazy Amounts of Nastiness Out of Your Clothes & Linens!) (2)

The duvet cover is a real test because my daughter is always kicking her top sheet off and using only her duvet. Over time it’s gotten discolored in spots and even bleach hasn’t been able to restore it to a whiter white.

Use common sense by sorting the laundry you’re stripping by color just like you would when using the washing machine. Since we’re using hot water, you obviously don’t want to put a red t-shirt in with your white sheets and you only want to strip non-delicate items that are ok to put in hot water.

2. Fill Your Tub

Fill your bathtub about ½ full (or only as full as you need to in order to fully submerge the items you’re stripping – I fill my large soaking tub about ⅓ full) with HOT water. If you have a large sink, you can also use that as long as you don’t have too many items (but beware that your sink will be out of commission for several hours!). You can also use a top-loading washing machine.

Laundry Stripping Recipe (That Gets Crazy Amounts of Nastiness Out of Your Clothes & Linens!) (3)

3. Add the Ingredients From the Laundry Stripping Recipe

Sprinkle the Borax, washing soda, and powdered detergent (plus the Calgon if you’re using it) into the tub using the laundry stripping recipe above. Stir the water to dissolve the powders and mix them together. Use gloves throughout the laundry stripping process for safety.

Laundry Stripping Recipe (That Gets Crazy Amounts of Nastiness Out of Your Clothes & Linens!) (4)

4. Submerge Your Laundry and Stir

Submerge your items in the water and stir them around the tub a bit. From this point out, you’ll want to come back every hour or so to stir (and become horrified at how gross the water is getting), allowing your items to soak for 5-6 hours. This is what my previously clean blue water looked like after an hour of soaking:

Laundry Stripping Recipe (That Gets Crazy Amounts of Nastiness Out of Your Clothes & Linens!) (5)

This is after three hours:

Laundry Stripping Recipe (That Gets Crazy Amounts of Nastiness Out of Your Clothes & Linens!) (6)

And this was at the end after 5 hours (I pulled the clothes back so you could see the nastiness in its full glory) – so gross!! And remember, this was CLEAN laundry!

Laundry Stripping Recipe (That Gets Crazy Amounts of Nastiness Out of Your Clothes & Linens!) (7)

5. Remove Laundry & Wash

The last step is to drain your tub, squeeze excess water out of your laundry, and then run it through a wash cycle in your washing machine (don’t add any detergent). I then do an extra rinse cycle to make sure all of the gross stuff that was in the tub water is totally rinsed out of it.

Laundry Stripping Recipe (That Gets Crazy Amounts of Nastiness Out of Your Clothes & Linens!) (8)

Then throw everything in the dryer as usual and marvel at your super clean and white laundry!

Laundry Stripping Recipe (That Gets Crazy Amounts of Nastiness Out of Your Clothes & Linens!) (9)

So how did my batch of laundry look and smell after I stripped it? Everything definitely looked whiter – I could tell a noticeable difference especially with the set of sheets I washed. When my daughter comes home from college to visit, she’ll have a cleaner than clean bed to hop into:

Laundry Stripping Recipe (That Gets Crazy Amounts of Nastiness Out of Your Clothes & Linens!) (10) Bedroom Sources: Pendant light | Bench | Duvet cover | Bed skirt | Blue fringe end pillows | White tassel pillows | Lumbar stripe pillow | Lamp | Grasscloth wallpaper (Powder Blue) | Headboard, nightstand, & art prints are no longer available

And my towels that had a funk to them passed my sensitive nose sniff test when wet. As far as my daughter’s duvet, it didn’t restore all of the discolored areas to the original super white white but it definitely whitened them up quite a bit which was a job even bleach hadn’t been able to do so I was happy with the results! If you guys try laundry stripping, let me know how it works out for you!

For any of you that are new around here, if you’re looking for more details or sources for anything in our bathroom, you can find those {here} in my master bathroom reveal post:

Laundry Stripping Recipe (That Gets Crazy Amounts of Nastiness Out of Your Clothes & Linens!) (11)

and you can get the details on our laundry room {here}:

Laundry Stripping Recipe (That Gets Crazy Amounts of Nastiness Out of Your Clothes & Linens!) (12)

And be sure to check out some of my other favorite cleaning posts:

How to Clean Your Washing Machine {here}

The Best Way to Clean Stainless Steel Appliances {here}

Shark vs. Dyson Cordless Vacuum Face-Off {here}

XO,

Laundry Stripping Recipe (That Gets Crazy Amounts of Nastiness Out of Your Clothes & Linens!) (13)

Laundry Stripping Recipe (That Gets Crazy Amounts of Nastiness Out of Your Clothes & Linens!) (2024)

FAQs

Laundry Stripping Recipe (That Gets Crazy Amounts of Nastiness Out of Your Clothes & Linens!)? ›

The general ratio for the laundry stripping recipe is 2 parts powdered detergent, 1 part Borax and 1 part washing soda.

How do you strip smelly laundry? ›

The general ratio for the laundry stripping recipe is 2 parts powdered detergent, 1 part Borax and 1 part washing soda.

Why is laundry stripping bad? ›

It can include dye from the fabrics and even fibers lost during stripping. Also, Wang says, the washing soda used in stripping can combine with deposits in hard water to create additional residue on fabrics.

How do you make laundry stripping solution? ›

Step 1: Fill your bathtub or a large bucket with very hot water. Step 2: Mix in 1/4 cup of Borax, 1/4 cup of washing soda and 1 cup of powdered laundry detergent. Step 3: Place clothes in the soaking solution and stir. Step 4: Leave the clothes to soak overnight, stirring them occasionally.

Does vinegar help strip laundry? ›

The vinegar and baking soda 'strip' the old soap and fabric softener residue from your towels. It's basically like clarifying shampoo for your hair, but for your towels! Added bonus: the vinegar leaves your towels nice and soft!

What is the best odor eliminator? ›

More
  • Best Overall: Arm & Hammer Deodorizer Odor Busterz » ...
  • Best Budget: Febreze Air Odor-Fighting Air Freshener » ...
  • Best for Pet Odors: Nature's Miracle Original Stain and Odor Remover » ...
  • Best for Smoke Removal: Zep Smoke Odor Eliminator » ...
  • Best for Cars: Febreze Unstopables Car Air Fresheners »
Feb 14, 2024

What laundry detergent gets smells out? ›

OUT ProWash Workwear Odor Eliminator Detergent is recommended for use to remove odors and stains from all washable fabrics including cotton, fleece, lycra, nylon, microfiber, polyester, spandex, wool, wicking clothing and more.

Does Borax ruin clothes? ›

Whitens your whites

Borax isn't going to damage the colours of your clothes either, as bleach is known to do.

Can you strip laundry without Borax? ›

All you need to add to the load is a ½ cup of distilled white vinegar, as it loosens zinc salts and aluminum chloride—much less harmful than stripping towels with borax.

Are borax and Oxiclean the same thing? ›

Amongst many other advantages, Borax assists in the saponification of any organic oils and fats that may be soiling the linen weave. Oxiclean on the other hand is a fully built Hydrogen Peroxide producing, colour-safe bleach additive which can be used as a soaker or as a detergent additive.

Does laundry stripping damage clothes? ›

“The process can help soak away leftover residue. But it also can remove dye and damage certain fabrics vulnerable to heat and high pH.”

What is a good substitute for borax? ›

But you can do the same by using baking soda as a substitute for borax. Baking soda can brighten and soften clothing and lower the pH of hard water just as borax does, but it's risk-free and non-toxic.

What is an alternative to laundry stripping? ›

Theoretically, Richardson says, using a couple of cups of baking soda in a load of laundry is an effective way to remove the buildup on your clothes and towels. To prevent the need for stripping altogether, skip the fabric softener and dryer sheets, which only coat the material and make it less absorbent.

How do you get towels really clean? ›

Instructions
  1. Wash your towels in hot water with one cup of vinegar (only).
  2. Wash towels in hot water again with 1/2 cup of baking soda (sprinkle the powder directly into the wash with the towels) and 1/4 cup Diva Wash.
  3. Throw towels in the dryer. Fold and enjoy!
Jan 23, 2024

Can I use vinegar and laundry detergent together? ›

Before going further, we have to warn you: adding vinegar or baking soda to the wash along with your laundry detergent increases the risk of poorer cleaning performance, as detergents are optimized for a specific pH level, which is altered by the presence of these two household additives in the wash.

Does stripping laundry get rid of smell? ›

Does laundry stripping remove smells? Laundry stripping removes the build-up responsible for the musty or dirty smell that clings to some fabrics, even after washing. This is because regular washing does not break down the build-up of sweat, oils, and laundry detergent that washing machines can leave behind.

How do you get old laundry smell out of clothes? ›

Wash your clothes in a cycle with vinegar.

The water in your machine won't necessarily get hot enough to sanitize your laundry, but the heat combined with the acetic acid in the vinegar will help break up any grime or bacteria that has started growing, which will help rid your clothing of that funky, musty smell.

References

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