How to Make a Go-To Recipe for Laundry Stripping

Laundry stripping has become an increasingly popular cleaning technique for revitalizing dingy, faded clothes. By bathing fabrics in a solution of borax, washing soda, and other ingredients, laundry stripping removes built-up residues, odors, and discoloration to restore brightness and softness. With some simple ingredients and steps, you can create a go-to laundry stripping recipe for freshening up your wardrobe.

Why Use Laundry Stripping

Laundry stripping offers several benefits over regular washing:

  • Removes stubborn odors and stains – From body oils and lotions to food spills and ground-in dirt, laundry stripping penetrates deep into fabric fibers to lift out grime regular detergent leaves behind.
  • Brightens dingy, faded clothes – Over time, fabrics lose their vibrancy. Laundry stripping removes dulling detergent buildup, minerals, and other residues to revive colors and whites.
  • Softens fabrics – Detergent, oil, and mineral deposits leave clothes feeling rough and stiff. Stripping eliminates those accumulations to restore softness.
  • Saves money – Rather than replacing discolored, smelly clothes, laundry stripping restores them to a like-new condition at a fraction of the cost.
  • Eco-friendly – This non-toxic process relies on ingredients like borax, washing soda, and vinegar rather than harsh chemicals. It’s a green cleaning option.

How Does Laundry Stripping Work?

The ingredients in laundry stripping solutions work together to deep clean fabrics:

  • Borax – This natural mineral softener binds to compounds that dull colors and irritate skin. It loosens stuck-on residues so they can be rinsed away.
  • Washing soda – An alkaline sodium carbonate, washing soda helps lift acidic odors like body oils and food stains, allowing them to be removed.
  • Vinegar – An acid, vinegar neutralizes detergent and mineral buildup that contributes to fabrics feeling stiff and dingy. It cuts through residual suds.
  • Calgon water softener – Softens hard water minerals so they won’t lock into fabric fibers during stripping. This keeps clothes from feeling stiff after cleaning.
  • Oxygen bleach – Brightens fabrics and lifts stains without using harsh chlorine bleaches that can damage and weaken fibers.

When combined and allowed to soak into fabric, this potent blend penetrates, dissolves, and releases the accumulated gunk that makes clothes look and feel dirty. After rinsing, fabrics emerge refreshed, odor-free, and vibrant.

What You Need for Laundry Stripping

Stripping solutions require just a few simple, inexpensive ingredients:

  • Borax powder
  • Washing soda (such as Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda)
  • Calgon water softener
  • Oxygen bleach powder (such as OxiClean)
  • White vinegar
  • Large basin, tub, or bathtub for soaking

These can be found in laundry aisles at supermarkets, discount and hardware stores for just a few dollars.

How to Make a Laundry Stripping Solution

Mixing up a laundry stripping bath is quick and easy:


  • 1⁄2 cup Borax
  • 1⁄4 cup washing soda
  • 1⁄4 cup Calgon water softener
  • 1⁄4 cup OxiClean powder
  • 1⁄4 cup white vinegar


  1. Draw enough hot water to cover the fabric load in a large basin, tub, or bathtub. The hotter the water, the better the stripping power.
  2. Add the borax, washing soda, Calgon, OxiClean and vinegar and stir to dissolve. For a large load, you can double the recipe.
  3. Add your laundry load to the tub, making sure clothes are fully submerged. For large loads, you may need to weigh them down with another basin or rack.
  4. Let soak 6-12 hours or overnight for heavy soiling and odors. For lighter cleaning, 1-2 hours may suffice.
  5. Drain, rinse thoroughly, and wash as usual with detergent.

It’s that simple! Now you’re ready to enjoy the stripping power of this laundry booster solution.

What Fabrics Can Be Stripped?

Nearly all washable fabrics can be safely stripped, including:

  • Cotton
  • Linen
  • Polyester
  • Rayon
  • Spandex blends
  • Towels
  • Sheets
  • Blankets
  • Blended fabrics

Avoid stripping silk, wool, or specialty performance fabrics. If unsure about a fabric, check the care label instructions first.

Clothes That Benefit Most From Stripping

While any washable fabrics can be stripped, the process works best for cleaning and reviving:

  • Workout clothes – Yoga pants, athletic shirts, and gym clothes tend to harbor odors. Stripping Removes sweat stains and bacteria.
  • Dingy white clothes – Yellowed pillowcases, undergarments, and shirts regain their bright white color after stripping.
  • Baby clothes – Onesies, blankets, and bibs frequently get food stains. Stripping lifts set-in formula, milk, and baby food spots.
  • Socks and underwear – These tighter-fitting garments absorb body oils. Stripping eliminates dinginess and odor.
  • Towels – Frequent washing leaves towels stiff and musty. Stripping restores soft fluffiness.
  • Sheets – Body oils, lotions, and sweat cause sheets to look yellowed and feel rough. Stripping removes buildup.
  • Cloth diapers – Stripping eliminates odors and stains between deep cleanings.

Steps for Effective Laundry Stripping

Follow these tips for optimal laundry stripping results:

1. Sort clothes by color

Separate white and light-colored items from darks and colors. Stripping can fade some dyes, especially darker hues. Play it safe by stripping lights and darks separately.

2. Wash before stripping

Run laundry through a normal wash cycle before stripping. This pre-treatment helps remove surface dirt so strips don’t have to work as hard to penetrate fibers.

3. Check for damage

Inspect elastic, lace, or beading for wear before stripping. Aggressive soaking can degrade damaged fabrics. Hand wash delicate items separately.

4. Soak sufficiently

Soak a minimum 6 hours for heavy duty cleaning. Longer soaks up to 12-24 hours may be needed for severe stains or laundry that’s deeply soiled.

5. Agitate occasionally

For best results, swish clothes occasionally as they soak. This helps washing soda and borax further penetrate fibers to lift residues.

6. Drain and rinse thoroughly

When finished stripping, drain tub completely. Rinse items 2-3 times in clean water to remove all stripping solution residue.

7. Wash as usual

After rinsing, wash items with regular detergent. Use an extra rinse cycle to eliminate any lingering stripping solution.

8. Avoid fabric softener

Don’t use fabric softener after stripping, as it will coat fibers and diminish the revitalizing effects.

Following these best practices will give you noticeably cleaner, brighter laundry after stripping.

Troubleshooting Laundry Stripping Problems

While stripping is generally safe when done properly, occasional issues can arise:

Laundry has a strong vinegar smell

  • Rinse in clean water 2-3 extra times to eliminate vinegar residue

Clothes feel stiff and scratchy

  • Soften by rewashing with a 1⁄2-cup baking soda

Fabric looks faded or bleached

  • Stripping can damage some dyes. Re-dye fabric if discoloration is severe.

Elastic feels limp, stretched out

  • Avoid soaking delicate elastic and lingerie for extended periods

Stripping solution didn’t mix well

  • Use hotter water to better dissolve ingredients

Clothes still look dingy and stained

  • Increase soaking time up to 24 hours for heavy soiling

With some adjustments, troubleshooting tactics will have clothes looking and smelling fresh in no time.

Benefits of Adding Laundry Stripping to Your Routine

Integrating periodic laundry stripping into your cleaning routine offers many benefits:

Saves money – Revitalizes clothes so you don’t have to replace them.

Extends wardrobe life – Gently cleans to avoid wear from harsh detergents and machines.

Reduces waste – Keeps clothes out of landfills by restoring worn items.

Enhances freshness – Eliminates embedded odors from clothing.

Improves health – Lifts away residues that can irritate sensitive skin.

Eco-friendly – Uses non-toxic and biodegradable ingredients.

Simple and inexpensive – Only requires a few affordable ingredients.

Less work – Soaking cleans with minimal effort compared to hand washing.

Strong cleaning power – Outperforms regular washing cycles.

Whitens whites – Removes stains and yellowing.

Brightens colors – Strips away dulling debris to revive vibrancy.

Softens fabrics – Leaves clothes fluffy and soft without static cling.

Versatile – Can strip a wide variety of fabrics and clothing items.

With so many benefits, it’s easy to see why laundry stripping has become a mainstream cleaning method. Following a simple go-to recipe will have clothes looking, feeling and smelling like new again. Soon you’ll be stripping away odors, stains and dinginess on a regular basis.

Frequently Asked Questions About Laundry Stripping

Why does laundry stripping work so well compared to regular washing?

The combination of borax, washing soda, vinegar, and other synergistic ingredients in stripping solutions penetrate deeper into fabric fibers. Extended soak times allow the components to fully dissolve and loosen residues so they rinse away completely.

How often should you strip laundry?

For lightly worn items, strip soaking every few months is sufficient. For clothes worn often next to the body, stripping every 4-6 weeks prevents buildup of body oils that cause odors and stains. Whites and towels may need stripped more frequently, like every 2-4 weeks.

How long does it take to strip laundry?

Plan on soaking 6-12 hours for moderate soiling. Heavily soiled or stained laundry may require an overnight soak of 12-24 hours. For light refreshment between deeper stripping, 1-2 hours will freshen up fabrics.

Can stripping damage or ruin clothes?

When done properly on machine-washable fabrics, stripping is safe for most items. Avoid soaking delicate silks, wools, specialty fabrics or clothes with existing wear and damage. Test stripping on an inconspicuous area first if unsure how an item will react.

Why does laundry turn gray over time?

Exposure to body oils, lotions, detergent residues and minerals causes light-colored fabrics to appear gray and dingy. Laundry stripping removes the accumulations that dull whites. For severely grayed fabric, re-whitening treatments can restore brightness after stripping.

What’s the difference between stripping and bleach?

Bleach contains harsh chlorine that can damage fabrics over time. Laundry stripping relies on oxygen-based ingredients like sodium percarbonate to lift stains without weakening fibers the way chlorine bleach can.

Can you strip clothing in a washing machine instead?

For best results, the extended soaking process works best done by hand in a basin or tub. Washing machines don’t allow for the hours of soaking time needed to fully penetrate fibers. Hand stripping also lets you monitor the process and spot treat if needed.

Ready to Revitalize Your Laundry?

If you’re tired of laundry that looks faded, feels stiff, and smells less-than-fresh, it’s time to try the transformative power of laundry stripping. This eco-friendly cleaning technique only requires a few basic ingredients and some time, but the results can breathe new life into worn, dingy clothes.

Keep this simple go-to stripping recipe on hand for whenever clothes need a deep clean. Follow the best practices outlined to safely revive whites, brighten colors, eliminate odors, and soften fabrics for like-new comfort. Integrate periodic stripping into your laundry routine to extend the lifespan of your wardrobe while saving time, money, and the environment.