DIY

Stripping Laundry

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Stripping laundry, not to be confused with ‘stripping’ laundry, is stripping the chemical buildup of detergent and fabric softener overtime, as well as stubborn bacteria that lingers in clothing and linens.

I’ve heard about this from friends in the past. I had seen their before and after photos, and I still did not believe. It was kind of like a similar denial where a storm is coming and you know you need to get to the store to stock up on water and other essentials, but you keep telling yourself it won’t be that bad.

All of the excuses ran through my head…we aren’t dirty people, I thoroughly wash all of our laundry on the proper settings, we clean up after ourselves routinely…all of the ridiculous things.

Still, I decided to give it a try. I figured what could it hurt. I had some towels that no matter how much I ran them on the sanitize cycle in the washing machine, they still came out smelling gross.

The first round of laundry I decided to strip the chemical build up out of was our bath towels. I figured if I was doing some towels, why not just throw in a whole tub full. The key to stripping laundry is you want to do this on clean laundry. While you can do this with textiles that need laundering, it is SO much better and less messy if the load you are attempting to strip is already clean.

Stripping Laundry

Use this method if you find your towels, sheets, workout clothing etc. has aquired a musty odor that you just can't seem to get rid of.
Prep Time15 minutes
Active Time5 hours
Total Time5 hours 15 minutes

Equipment

  • a bathtub

Materials

  • ½ cup Borax
  • cup sodium carbonate
  • ¼ cup regular laundry detergent
  • tub filled with the hotest water from the tap
  • laundry you wish to strip chemicals from

Instructions

  • Fill tub up with the hottest water that comes out of your tap. While the tub is filling add in the Borax, sodium carbonate, and laundry soap.
  • When the tub is filled ⅔ of the way up, add in the laundry you are wanting to strip the chemcials and bacteria from. Be sure every piece has been emersed and is wet.
  • Let sit until the water reaches room temperature. This really depends on how big your tub is and how much water is in there. For my master bedroom tub, it takes about 5 hours.
  • Once the water has reached room temperature, begin ringing the water out of the laundry and transfer it to the washing machine. Run on a rinse cycle with no extra chemicals. Dry like normal.

As you can see, the water is most definitely just gross at the end. After I ran the towels on a rinse and spin cycle and then dried them, they were just as fluffy as they were when I purchased them. And that smell, it hasn’t returned.

I was hooked, I decided I was going to keep doing batches of stripping until I had done most of our linens and textiles. Next I did a batch of all of our pool towels.

As you can see…the after water was much more filthy than after the bath towels. After the towels, I did all of Matt’s and my workout gear, and a load of all of our swimsuits, and some bedsheets. Each came out with similar results, the softest and most fresh laundry since the items were purchased.

A majority of my workout clothes is from Lululemon and Athleta. Stripping the chemicals out didn’t change the texture or performance of the clothing.

Also, I have not personally done this because I don’t have an infant, but I have several friends who have stripped their baby clothing before baby arrives. Doing this not only sanitizes the baby clothing, but it also easily gets out stubborn stains like spit up, diaper explosions, and food. If you do strip a load of baby items, be sure to then wash it regularly with whatever baby laundry soap you have decided to use.

Borax and sodium carbonate can be found in almost any laundry aisle at the grocery store. They are both laundry boosters. Have you heard of Oxi-Clean? It has sodium carbonate in it. Don’t confuse sodium carbonate with baking soda. Not the same thing.

Both of these cleaning chemicals are potent, but they are very effective. They don’t damage clothing like bleach does, but they do chemically unbind stains, odors, and bacteria. I’ve also used Borax to clean my bathroom and kitchen. Still, keep these chemicals high up and out of the reach of children.

Have you ever stripped laundry? Were you amazed at the results and how it prolonged your textiles a lot longer than you expected? I think I will continue to do this stripping laundry method at least twice a year…especially with linens and towels. Hope y’all are having an amazing week, hug your loved ones, and stay safe.

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