Laundry Stripping: What Is It and Does It Really Work?!

Simply put, laundry stripping is a tactic used to remove excess detergent, minerals, dirt, oil, and stench from clothing, bedding, etc. It’s been gaining a lot of popularity and videos of dirty bath water have gone viral. I’ve been intrigued for a few weeks now and decided to give it a try myself.

The videos and blogs I’ve read focus heavily on stripping things like workout clothes (leggings, sports bras, socks, guys’ undershirts), bedding (sheets in particular), athletic equipment (pads, jerseys), and bath towels. I decided to try with our towels first. We use white towels in our bathroom because we can bleach them and keep their color easier than others, but I still find that some residue and gunk doesn’t come off even after bleaching.

All in all the process is pretty basic. I got my “recipe” and directions from Go Clean Go, but you can find many versions online, so figure out what works best for you.


1/4 cup Borax

1/4 cup Arm and Hammer Washing Soda (this seems to be sold out everywhere, so I just used regular baking soda, which isn’t identical but still a decent alternative)

1 generous scoop of powder Tide Detergent (must be powder!)

Fill bathtub with SUPER HOT water and add your laundry

Pour detergent mix over top and then stir around the laundry

Check on and stir again every hour for 4-6 hours

Drain tub and wash clothes in a regular cycle in your washing machine

*One tidbit of advice from others is to make sure you do this with like colors. No color mixing! So stick with darks, lights, whites, etc. Use your better judgment here, but separate your colors, people!


As mentioned, I did this with white bath towels. I used large bath towels, hand towels, washcloths, and a couple other hand towels from our half bath downstairs. I turned my bathtub on the absolute hottest water and filled the tub up. Much to my surprise the water was still pretty hot even two hours in!

After one hour:


I could see a little bit of residue in the bathtub but not too much. Stirred and left for another hour.

After three hours:


The water was definitely a little dirtier after hours two and three, but not completely disgusting. I stirred everything around again and let it sit once more. Water was still pretty darn hot!

After five hours:


I forgot to check after four hours, so these ended up soaking a good five and a half hours or so. By the end of it, the water was very murky. So murky that when I removed my towels to carry down to the washing machine, I didn’t see a couple of washcloths and left them behind initially. The water wasn’t brown or super dark, like you’ll see in some videos if you search laundry stripping, but for having just plain white towels, it was pretty gross. I will also note that after moving the towels out of the water, my hands were pretty slimy feeling. I could definitely tell that there was residue and yuck left behind in the water, which encouraged me that something worked!

I threw everything into a hot cycle on my washing machine and then dried as normal. The whites aren’t necessarily any brighter (this isn’t for stain removal or to take the place of traditional washing) but I feel like my towels are more soft, smell better, and overall just a bit more refreshed.

Overall, my final review of laundry stripping would be that it seemed to do the job it was meant to do. It definitely appeared to “strip” my towels of excess junk and residue. I could tell that by the bath water alone after it was all said and done. I’m excited to try this with workout clothes and our sheets next.

From what I’ve read, you should strip your laundry every 3-6 months or so. However, if you use natural or homemade detergents, you will probably want to strip your items more frequently than that since natural detergents don’t wash things as effectively as store bought detergents.

So, have you stripped your laundry before? Are you going to now? Let me know! And if you want to see a video chronicle of this entire process, head to my Instagram where I have an entire story highlight saved about it.

Thanks for reading!

xx Alex


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    1. I am not sure on that! I’ve only ever done this (or seen it done) in a bathtub or large wash sink.

  1. Thanks for the step-by-step instructions! I’ve done this now with towels, workout clothes, a blanket, and the dog bed (all separately, ha!) and it’s incredible what the end result is each time. Yesterday, I washed the dog bed in the washing machine first before “stripping” it in the bathtub, and I couldn’t believe how brown and murky the water was – when it had been washed that same morning!! It wasn’t even muddy or anything like that to begin with!

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