How clean is your clean laundry, really? It might look like it’s clean, and it might smell like it’s clean. But a recent viral social media trend shows that there’s a big problem lurking deep down inside the fibers of your clothing, towels, and linens.
Laundry stripping, also called strip-washing, has gained renewed popularity in recent weeks, with TikTok videos tagged with #laundrystripping garnering nearly 20 million views.
What exactly is laundry stripping? I sat down with Huston based Board-Certified Dermatologist, Elizabeth Mullans, M.D. to get the full details on what it is, how to do it properly and what to avoid.
Q: What is Laundry Stripping and how exactly does it work?
EM: Laundry stripping is a soaking method designed to deep-clean your laundry, with the intent to remove built-up residue from detergent, hard water, body oils and fabric softener. It is seen as ‘satisfying’ because the water may turn to a brown or gray color from all the gunk being “stripped” away from the linens, giving a fresh, new feeling.
Q: What do you need for Laundry Stripping?
EM: Borax, Washing soda (Sodium Carbonate) and Laundry detergent (I prefer to use fragrance-free detergent for sensitive skin, like Arm & Hammer Free and Clear)
Q: Will it damage your skin?
EM: It should not damage your skin if you use a detergent designed for sensitive skin. Also try to avoid laundry stripping on delicate items.
Q: What’s the best method for laundry stripping?
EM: The best way to strip wash your laundry is either in a clean bathtub, or in a large bucket with just-washed laundry, either wet or dry. Add a mixture of borax, washing soda, and laundry detergent, follow a 1 to 1 to 2 ratio, adjusting the amounts based on how much water you’re using. Once the mixture has dissolved, add your laundry. Let soak until the water has cooled, about 4 hours, stirring the garments occasionally. Finally, wash the stripped laundry once more in the washing machine, on a water-only cycle. Enjoy your ultra-clean bed sheets and bath towels.
Q: What should you avoid when Laundry Stripping
EM: Laundry stripping is not always ideal for clothing as it can cause dyes to run. You may want to stick to white bath towels and bed sheets. If you do try the method on colorful clothing, avoid mixing a red shirt with white socks—or else you could end up with accidentally dyed clothing. Don’t try this technique on delicate or fragile items. This method requires hot water, so check each item’s care label first.
Q: Any other tips?
EM: Be careful with the type of items you decide to strip, such as comforters or pillows, as a high pH will strip the oils and make them crack.
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