How To Strip Laundry

You may feel that you get all of your heavy-duty laundry cleaning done through a cycle in the washing machine and dryer, using the best laundry detergent, fabric softener, and dryer balls that the current market has to offer.

What if I told you that your laundry is still dirty?

If you find yourself in this situation, you may need to learn how to strip your laundry to get it clean.

What Is Laundry Stripping

Essentially laundry stripping is the deep cleaning of your laundry to get out not only the dirt, grime, and natural oils of your clean laundry but also the buildup of cleaning residue from the detergent and softeners of your previous washes.

It is similar to treating your hair with a clarifying detox treatment but for your clothes.

It consists of soaking your clean clothes in your laundry detergent, Borax, and washing soda to extract all of the residues that have built up in your laundered clothes and household textiles over time.

Follow the steps down below to learn how to strip your laundry of hidden buildup and dirt.

What You’ll Need

  • Bathtub, sink, or large container
  • Borax
  • Washing soda
  • Laundry detergent

Step By Step Instructions For How To Strip Laundry

1. Fill The Tub With Hot Water

Using hot water, fill the tub or your container of choice.

Keep in mind the number of loads you will want to do and how much laundry you will be stripping.

Do not waste water going overkill with filling the entire tub if you are only going to strip three pieces of laundry!

2. Add Borax, Washing Soda, And Laundry Detergent

No matter the size of the container you use, such as your tub, sink, large bin, you will want to keep the ratio of 1:1:2 of Borax, washing soda, and laundry detergent, respectively.

Generally, you will want to use 1/4 cup of Borax, 1/4 cup of washing soda, and 1/2 cup of laundry detergent for a bathtub.

If you haven’t used Borax and are not sure which brand to try, I recommend 20 Mule Team All Natural Borax Laundry Detergent Booster & Multi-Purpose Household Cleaner.

20 Mule Team gets excellent reviews on Amazon and is a great economical choice.

Once you add these ingredients to the hot water, stir it until the solution completely dissolves and there are no granules of Borax or washing soda.

3. Add Your Laundry To The Cleaning Solution

Now you will add all the laundry that you would like to strip.

Stir in the laundry and be sure that it is all completely submerged.

Periodically stir the laundry to help with extracting the buildup in the laundry.

Wait until the solution and laundry have cooled; this should take around four hours to cool.

4. Drain The Water From The Tub

Now you can drain out all the dirty and murky water.

You can take this moment to appreciate all the nasty water and buildup you have removed from your laundry!

5. Wash The Laundry On Rinse-Only Cycle

After removing the wet laundry from the drained tub, you need to put the laundry through the washing machine on the rinse-only cycle.

This removes any remaining buildup and the cleaning solution. 

Next, put the laundry through the dryer.

And you are done!

Video Instructions

If you are still not 100% sure on how to strip laundry, follow this video tutorial to lend you some clarity:

Commonly Asked Questions

How Frequently Should I Strip My Laundry?

This depends on several factors. If you use homemade detergent, use fabric softener, or have hard water without a water softener, you will want to strip your laundry more frequently. 

Speaking of homemade detergent, if that’s something you’ve thought about trying, check out our article about how to make homemade liquid laundry detergent.

A good rule of thumb is for clothing that you get pretty dirty regularly, such as workout clothing or work clothes that you get dirty, you will want to strip your laundry every three months.

If you’re going to strip towels, sheets, etc., you should wait longer to strip, likely around 6-9 months.

Is Laundry Stripping Necessary?

Not really! As long as you practice correct laundering practices, you really should not need to strip your laundry, even though you might miss out on the satisfaction of seeing that dirty water extracted from your laundry!

Things you can do to avoid needing to strip laundry would be to use a deep cleaning detergent and make sure you are not using too much of your detergent and fabric softener.

Part of the issue that causes the need to strip laundry is to remove residue buildup from your cleaning detergents! 

You need to avoid overloading your washing machine.

While it might feel like you are getting more laundry done, it is not allowing you to clean your laundry as effectively! 

If you feel that your laundry needs an extra boost and deep cleansing, you can also add Borax or washing soda to a regular load of laundry.

What Items Can I Strip?

You can strip any laundry you would typically put in the washing machine.

Take care that you keep your laundry sorted by colors.

Do not strip all laundry colors at once in the same laundry stripping vat! 

I would recommend separating your clothes by both type and color.

If you notice a softer fabric, it may be more likely to bleed its color. 

Is Laundry Stripping Bad For My Clothes?

Technically this is deep cleaning and can be harsh on your laundry.

If you are worried about more delicate items, I would avoid trying to strip them.

Most frequently stripped are sheets and towels as they are generally used more and thus will have a more significant buildup of body oils and detergents. 

Laundry stripping can cause avoidable damage to your laundry if you are not selective about the items you choose to strip.

Fabrics and colors can both be affected if you are not careful.


I hope you have enjoyed learning about this new laundry trend that we see everywhere on the internet!

I hope this has been helpful in learning about what laundry stripping is, how to strip laundry, and if it is right for you!

Take into account the proper precautions, and have fun laundry stripping!