Here’s how to strip wash bed sheets, bath towels, and workout clothes so they feel (and smell) brand new.

As most of us are spending more time at home during this pandemic we are noticing more things around the home – like how dingy or smelly our laundry really is. If you are anything like me, you are working out more (more time? why not!) and are spending more time on your laundry (or doing it for once!?) Confession – I had someone do our laundry for the last several years!

For years we have used Norwex laundry detergent because I prefer a non-toxic detergent….however it is not uncommon that these more natural detergents just don’t get rid of the funk! Recently, there has been a renewed interest in laundry stripping, also known as “strip washing”, a growing cleaning trend that some swear by to revive laundry. Essentially, laundry stripping is a method of washing that is supposed to remove detergent residue (especially from homemade laundry soap), fabric softener, minerals from hard water, and body oils that have collected on your laundry over time. By soaking the laundry in hot water with a borax solution + washing soda, the fabric is stripped of residue.

Should you try it?

If you’re feeling like your laundry needs to be strip washed because of buildup (sticky feeling on your towels or bed sheets) or your clothes just flat out smell and you swear you didn’t let them sit in the washer too long) start by modifying your laundry routine. Try less detergent (follow the recommended amount), a different detergent, and skip the fabric softener. Laundry stripping is an easy but time-consuming task, so try these methods to avoid it….however don’t be afraid to try it either!

If you have some time on your hands and are feeling adventurous  – get ready to see just how much residue has collected on your household linens.


How to Strip Wash Your Laundry

Gather Your Supplies:

  • Borax
  • Arm + Hammer Washing soda (sodium carbonate)
  • Calgon
  • Laundry detergent (I’ve seen Tide – not a huge fan but use something that works)

Follow These Steps:

1. Start with CLEAN laundry, either wet or dry. You can strip wash the laundry either in a clean bathtub, a large bucket, or a top-loading washing machine if you have a soak cycle.

2. Start by filling the tub with very very hot water. Then, add a mixture of borax, washing soda, and laundry detergent, following a 1 to 1 to 2 ratio, adjusting the amounts based on how much water you’re using. For a full washing machine, try about 1/4 cup borax, 1/4 cup washing soda, and 1/2 cup detergent. Calgon is an extra and really had to find right now – not necessary but a nice to have.

3. Once the mixture has dissolved, add your laundry. Let soak until the water has cooled, about 4-6 hours, stirring occasionally. (This is the fun part, where you’ll see the dirt and residue come off into the water – be prepared!!!)

4. Follow up by washing the items once more in the washing machine, on a water-only or rinse/spin cycle. Voila! Enjoy your ultra-clean bed sheets and bath towels.

NOTE: Do not mix white anything with dark anything. Keep like colors together. Strip washing can cause things to run, better safe than sorry.