If you talk with moms at all or do your own laundry, chances are you’ve heard of laundry stripping. But maybe you’re still unsure what it actually is and what all the hype around it is about. It’s weird, because usually the idea is to not air out your dirty laundry, and here people are talking about it so casually.
But what is laundry stripping? Does laundry stripping work? What is the best laundry stripping recipe?
The conversation seems most popular in natural and crunchy mom circles, but don’t let that be a reason you avoid laundry stripping. Despite its trending upward and feeling a bit like a fad, laundry stripping is actually a solid hygiene practice that everyone should employ. Let’s break it down.
Stripping it Back to the Basics
Before you even entertain the idea of laundry stripping, you have to know what it is. In short, laundry stripping is the practice of prewashing your laundry before putting them in the washing machine. In some ways, it really is that simple, but as always, there’s a little more science behind the idea.
Right about now you might be asking yourself, why can’t I just wash my clothes? And the answer is, you can. No one is stopping you, and washed clothes are much better than the alternative. But a closer look at what happens in the laundry stripping process might change your mind.
Why & How Laundry Stripping Works
Remember those old photos and films where the women washed laundry over washboards? That practice closely resembles the agitate cycle of your washing machine. But those old washboards were either used in running water (like streams or rivers) or were allowed to breathe between use, preventing the buildup of dirt, oils, and other residues that our clothes naturally collect from daily wear. The inside of your washing machine doesn’t get to see daylight or fresh air, and so those residues build up in the wash basin over time.
Most people don’t clean their washing machine. It has the word washing in its name, sound like it cleans itself, right? Wrong. Without that space to breathe or sunlight and fresh air to kill off bacteria, your washing machine can get pretty gross. Of course, cleaning your machine periodically is a great help, but since it’s really difficult to do unless you disassemble the thing, laundry stripping adds an extra layer of benefits.
See, when your washing machine is coated in dirt and oil residues and possibly harboring bacteria where you can’t see it, its cleaning cycle becomes less effective. Washing dirt with dirt just adds more dirt to the problem. Some oils dissolve oils, and others just move them around.
This means that with time, it is very likely your washing machine is breaking down odors and stains but isn’t really getting all of the grime off your laundry, which can lead to buildup, especially in areas like the armpits of clothes, or fabrics that take a daily beating like bed sheets. It can also allow for the detergent you use to build up on your laundry too, and many store-bought laundry detergents contain a lot of skin irritants that can be deeply problematic—but that’s a post for another day.
Read More: Easy DIY Baby Laundry Detergent
Laundry Stripping Steps & Recipe
Okay, so you’re sold on the importance of laundry stripping. Next is knowing how to do it. It’s not rocket science, but it can be a bit time-consuming and may require buying some ingredients if you don’t already have them around the house.
Recipe: There are three essential laundry stripping mix ingredients. This recipe for laundry stripping includes those plus a few optional additions for more effect.
- 1 C baking soda or washing soda (They aren’t the same, but either can be used.)
- 1 C borax
- ½ C laundry soap
These are the three essentials, and it’s worth noting that a clean natural laundry detergent is ideal.
The following are optional add-ins that offer a deeper clean if you’re up to it. These items are all available from Young Living, and you can probably find other brand equivalents if you so choose.
- ¼ C Thieves Household Cleaner
- 10-20 drops of Digize Essential Oil
- 2-3 caps of Thieves Fruit & Veggie Wash (Yep, you read that right.)
Now for the actual process:
Step 1: After gathering a load of laundry fill a tub or deep sink with hot water. As hot as you can reasonably get it. The first time through it may be wise to color sort as this process can cause some fabrics, even those that have been washed multiple times, to bleed a little,
Step 2: Mix up your laundry stripping solution (see the recipe and optional add-ins above).
Step 3: Add the laundry and solution to the hot water making sure all of the laundry is submerged and fully covered. Let sit for a few hours or overnight.
Step 4: Be thoroughly disgusted at the murky black water and all of the filth your laundry released.
Step 5: Drain and move laundry to the washing machine and wash on a normal cycle.
Step 6: Delight in how absolutely soft and fresh your laundry feels. Rinse and repeat.
You can strip your laundry as often as you want, but because of the time commitment stripping maybe one load each week, or doing multiple loads once a month or so can keep the process in place without adding too much to your probably already long to-do list.
Read More: WHY MEN REALLY LOVE DOING LAUNDRY
Still don’t buy into the idea? Try laundry stripping on your clean clothes, or even some that are brand new. It’s amazingly disgusting how much filth is released in this process. You never thought it would be trendy to show off your dirty laundry, but the internet can’t get enough of those before/after photos—the tub of clear clean water before you add your laundry and the tub of swamp water after your laundry is stripped. But now you know, and if you have the inclination, you can try laundry stripping for yourself.
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Check out Daily Mom’s Home Section for more laundry advice, tips, and tricks.
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