A Must-Try Laundry Stripping Recipe

Laundry stripping is an inexpensive, easy way to bring life back to your dull and dirty laundry. Learn how you can refresh your garments and linens with this easy laundry stripping recipe.

Unsatisfied with the cleanliness of your clothing even after it has gone through the wash? Try stripping your laundry to see how a deep clean can make a difference.

towels and soft fleecy cloths lie neatly folded on a chair against a white background. Clean house, order in the house, minimalism.


Fresh towels after a round of laundry stripping.

Photo by: Getty Images/Alena Shafieva

Getty Images/Alena Shafieva

Fresh towels after a round of laundry stripping.

What is Laundry Stripping?

Laundry stripping is a method used to clean clothes that have already been through the wash but are holding on to deep-set build-up. It’s not as much a sign that your washing machine and regular detergent aren’t doing their job; it has more to do with how fibers hold on to minerals over time and become resistant to the regular washing routine. If your clothes, bed sheets, towels and other linens begin to look and feel dingy, a day spent soaking can be enough to make those fibers feel brand new again.

A day spent soaking? Does it really take all day? The process of laundry stripping takes some time, which makes sense if you think about it. A deep, soaking treatment in powerful cleaners does a lot more to tackle stains, odors and build-up than a 52-minute cycle in the wash. We recommend trying to let the items soak for six hours to make the most of the treatment.

Stripping clothes and linens can help eliminate:

  • dirt
  • grime
  • waxy residue leftover from softeners
  • body oils
  • body lotions and hair sprays that adhere to fibers
  • mineral build-up caused by hard water

Laundry Stripping Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup preferred powder washing detergent
  • long-handled brush
  • washing machine

While laundry stripping is great for many fabrics, avoid it if your garments are made of silk or wool.

Several store-bought products claim to be powerful enough for a true deep clean including Arm & Hammer laundry detergent sheets, Tide Clean Boost and The Laundry Stripper powder. But, if you need a truly deep clean that only comes with the help of a deep soak, this DIY laundry stripping recipe is one you’ll want to try.

How to Strip Your Laundry:

Super Washing Soda and Borax boxes.

Super Washing Soda and Borax are used for laundry stripping.

Super Washing Soda, Borax, and powdered laundry detergent are used for laundry stripping.

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Super Washing Soda, Borax, and powdered laundry detergent are used for laundry stripping.

1. Fill Your Bathtub With Hot Water

  • Turn on the tap and fill your bathtub with the hottest water you can. It needs to be deep enough to fully submerge the garments you’re stripping.

  • No bathtub? You can do this in a large bucket, too. Just avoid adding too many clothes, so the cleaning agents can still circulate around your laundry.

2. Add Cleaning Ingredients

  • While the hot water is filling the basin, add the borax, washing soda and powdered laundry detergent one by one.

  • Stir the water with the long-handled brush to help circulate and dissolve the powders.
Dirty water in a bathtub while stripping bed linens.

Dirty water while stripping bed linens.

Dirty water visible after 30 minutes of stripping.

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Dirty water visible after 30 minutes of stripping.

3. Place Your Items Into the Hot Water

  • Add your items to the tub.

  • Remember: This method is used to deep clean already clean garments. Strip items that you previously laundered but have a higher tendency to hold on to oils and stains. This might include garments like athletic wear, everyday tees or other household items like towels, pillowcases and bed sheets.

  • Like any load of laundry, avoid mixing darks and lights. Strip one load of darks, clean the tub, and then draw a second bath for your whites and lighter garments.

4. Let the Garments Soak for Six Hours

  • Check on the items after 30 minutes and again after four hours. Give the water and its contents a good stir using the long-handled brush at each check-in.

  • Notice how much the water is changing color? That’s the result of the laundry stripping treatment pulling additional residues from your so-called “clean” clothes.

  • At the six-hour mark, you’ll remove the clothing from the bath.
Samsung washing machine on Rinse + Spin cycle

Samsung washing machine on Rinse + Spin cycle

Use the Rinse + Spin cycle on your washing machine to remove residual cleaner from the fabric.

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Use the Rinse + Spin cycle on your washing machine to remove residual cleaner from the fabric.

5. Squeeze Water Out of Clothing

  • After six hours of soaking, you can pull your laundry from the dirty bath water and transfer it into your washing machine.

  • Squeeze the clothing to eliminate some of the water, but avoid wringing fibers while they’re saturated. It can damage the fibers and cause stretching.

6. Run a Rinse + Spin Cycle

Without adding any detergent to your washing machine, run the wet items through a single Rinse + Spin cycle to remove the cleaning agents from the tub.


Use laundry stripping every few months for things like socks, pillowcases and towels.

Photo by: Getty Images/HUIZENG HU

Getty Images/HUIZENG HU

Use laundry stripping every few months for things like socks, pillowcases and towels.

7. Dry Items as Usual

  • Run the items through the clothes dryer or line dry, as usual.

  • The end result will be garments and household items that are truly clean. Stripped towels and linens will be restored to their original softness. Items like workout clothes will be odor-free and better able to wick moisture during your next sweat-producing activity.

How Often Can You Strip Laundry?

Laundry Stripping Tutorial (Plus, Gross Before + After Footage)
Loading Video...

Stripping your laundry too frequently puts the fibers at risk of being damaged, both by the concentration of cleaners and the excessive exposure to hot water. Do it on an as-needed basis or every few months.

  • Strip cloth diapers every four to six weeks to remove ammonia buildup.
  • Strip workout clothing every one to two months, if they are holding onto odors.
  • Tackle your towels and linens every two to three months to remove body oils and soap residue.
  • On an as-needed basis, stripping can also help clean your cloth furniture slipcovers to remove stains and body oils. While it’s a deep cleanse, it’s also less agitating and can help prolong your furniture. Consider this a solution for your child’s dirty car seat slipcover, too!

Next Up

Can You Wash a Down Comforter in the Washing Machine?

Is your down comforter feeling less than fresh? Learn how to clean it in a washing machine without damaging it.

How to Wash a Wool Sweater

Rajiv Surendra proves that not only is it possible to wash your wool sweater at home without shrinking or damaging it, but it's also remarkably easy.

How to Wash Pillows Properly

Can you put pillows in the washing machine? The answer is "yes," depending on the pillow. Find out which ones you can wash and which you can't, and how to properly clean them all.

How to Clean a Dishwasher Filter So Your Dishes Shine Again

Your dishwasher does so much cleaning for you, it’s time you gave it a good cleaning in return — starting with the dishwasher filter.

How to Clean and Season Cast-Iron Cookware

A little regular maintenance and a few easy cleaning rules will keep your cast-iron cookware well-seasoned and rust-free for years of tasty non-stick cooking.

The Secret to Un-Shrinking a Wool Sweater

Rescuing your favorite winter garment couldn't be easier.

How to Wash a Weighted Blanket

Laundering your weighted blanket is easier than you thought.

How to Make a Bed With Tight Hospital Corners

Learn the easiest way to make mitered corners so your top sheet is tight and snug.

How to Remove an Ink Stain From a Rug or Carpet

Removing an ink stain isn't such an easy task because of its chemical properties. But with a little patience and persistence, the stain will be gone before your eyes.

How to Remove Coffee Stains From Carpet

With just a few household items and our simple tips and tricks, that daunting coffee stain will be no more.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.