This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
I had never heard of laundry stripping until a friend told me she is addicted to it. I thought it might be some sort of perverse way of doing your laundry whilst naked. But I was wrong, and I am now a lifelong member of the Laundry Stripping club.
What is Laundry Stripping?
Have you sometimes noticed that your washing comes out still smelling, and it does not matter how high the temperature is of your wash or how much fabric softener you add to the wash, they still smell? This is particularly relevant to towels and workout kits.
Laundry Stripping is a very old technique. It is a method of washing that removes detergent residue, fabric softener, minerals from hard water, and body oils that have collected on your laundry over time.
While a washing machine can deal with some of the tough stains and grime our clothes collect, it can’t compete with laundry stripping, which essentially draws out all the nasties built up over time. One of the reasons for this is that laundry stripping helps eliminate odours completely off the fabric and restores it to its initial state – something a standard washing machine just can’t do. By utilising this classic cleaning method, you can remove all the hard water built up in your clothes and towels’ fabric and the small layer of film that fabric softener leaves behind. While most instructions tell you to soak your laundry for five to six hours, you can laundry strip for up to three days for really tough stains.
What are the benefits?
Apart from removing all the above-mentioned nasties, it will give your clothes or towels a new lease of life.
What products do you need?
If you want to laundry strip, it won’t work with bog-standard washing detergent. To get out a serious build-up of dirt and grime, you’re going to need some specialist products, including the following:
- One load of freshly laundered clothes or towels (either dry or wet)
- Non-bio laundry detergent (I used Ecover)
- Washing soda
- Something to stir the laundry with – a long plastic mop handle or an old wooden spoon works well.
Fill a plastic tub or a bathtub with hot water, add ½ a cup of laundry detergent, a ¼ cup of borax and a ¼ cup of washing soda. Stir until well mixed.
Submerge all the fresh laundry into the tub and leave it until the water becomes cool, which can take three to five hours. Stir the laundry from time to time to help remove any dirt.
Drain or remove all the murky water and run your laundry through the washing machine on a rinse-only cycle. No need to wash again with detergent.
Hang your washing out to dry as normal – your laundry will look and feel extra fresh.
See at bottom of post for recommended products.
What items can you laundry strip?
You can wash most fabrics using the laundry stripping method, aside from more delicate items that shouldn’t go anywhere near hot water – always check the care label first. Also, bear in mind that although you can wash coloured fabrics with this method, it’s not really recommended, as laundry stripping can cause the dyes to run – mixing coloured clothes with white bath towels or bed sheets is a serious no-no. Overall, it’s best to stick to towels, sheets and white t-shirts when it comes to laundry stripping.
How often should you laundry strip?
Every three months for your workout clothes that are worn all the time. Every 6-9 months for things like towels, blankets, etc.