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How to Strip Laundry

How to strip laundry using tide, borax, arm & hammer, and calgon. It’s a simple method using to remove all of the grime, dirt, pollutants etc from your laundry leaving everything cleaner and brighter!


how to strip laundry


Alright, if you’ve been following Cade and I on instagram you know the poor guy has been slaving away with me to strip our laundry. Don’t let him fool you, ps because he totally got sucked in as much as I did. 

Years and years ago I used to strip our whites and towels, and I loved it. Once I was battling Hyperemesis Gravidarum and a high risk pregnancy again I couldn’t do it and add on a preemie baby, yeah my brain cells totally went out the door. 


a bathtub full of murky water from stripping laundry

My darling friend (who has some of my fave recipes right now), Heather from, Fueling a Southern Soul reintroduced me to “Laundry Stripping” and I’ve been loving it! 

I had no idea you could do all of your laundry and back then I never called it laundry stripping, I just called it, brightening your whites.

What is Laundry Stripping?

Laundry stripping is basically when you remove detergent residue (especially from homemade laundry soap), fabric softener, , dryer sheets, minerals from hard water (yes, even if you have a water softener), and body oils that have collected on your clothing and linens over time.

Think about your whites and your towels… oh my goodness and your workout clothes! Which ps, do you really call it, Active Wear? I don’t but everything online as well as stores always call it that. 

Anyway, the point is to strip your clothes of the nasty and leave the freshest, cleanest, brightest clothes you’ve had in a long time. 


Does it Really Work?


I mean, listen, if you’ve got whites that have gone that nasty, dingy, brownish-gray you’re probably not going to see them be crazy bright white again, but they will be a little better and certainly cleaner. 


Did I yell that loud enough? If your whites are just that dingy thing, especially around the armpits and neck then this will be life-changing for you. If you wear garments, I’m looking at you. LIFE-CHANGING, friend. 

before and after of laundry stripping

before and after of laundry stripping

Before AND After Pictures of Stripping Laundry

Everyone is always asking me for before and after pictures of stripping laundry, but the truth is, I absolutely never think to take any because I know I’m taking on extra work that day, so I’m just trying to power through it.


The other day I did remember to take a picture of my hot pads and yes, I wash them all the time, and yes, I know I destroy them. 🙂 I’m a food blogger, it happens.


ingredients and directions for stripping laundry

Ingredients for Stripping Laundry

What to buy for laundry stripping:

  • Borax
  • Arm and Hammer Laundry Soap (baking soda is fine if you absolutely cannot find it)
  • Calgon (skip it or we order on Amazon.)
  • Powdered Tide (not the gel)


Recipe for Stripping Laundry

  • 1/4 Cup Borax
  • 1/4 Cup Arm & Hammer Laundry Soap
  • 1/4 Cup Calgon
  • 1 Heaping Scoop of Powdered Tide
  1. Separate your laundry by colors, darks, workout clothing, whites, towels, bedsheets etc. 
  2. Add all ingredients to a bathtub of hot water. 
  3. Add one pile of laundry and stir to combine. 
  4. Every hour for 4-6 hours stir the laundry. 
  5. Drain the tub and wring out the clothes. 
  6. Place in a washing machine and wash everything as normal.
  7. Dry and you’re done!

Frequently Asked Questions about Stripping Laundry



Can you Skip the Calgon?

Yes, if you cannot find the Calgon it’s ok to skip it. 


Why Don’t you use Fabric Softener or Dryer Sheets?

I let our readers know that I do not believe in fabric softener or dryer sheets. It’s based on my own research and a smarty pants sister who got her master’s degree in textiles. 

Fabric softener and dryer sheets coat your clothing in lots of terrible chemicals and ruin your clothes.

Think about it this way, if you’re trying to soften something don’t you break it down? That’s what you’re doing to your clothes, you’re breaking up those fibers and they won’t last as long, take on more dirt and oils etc and you’ll notice that your clothing wears out faster. 


Why use Calgon after you Say NOT to Use Fabric Softener?

If I don’t have it I don’t use it, but Calgon is a water softener not a true fabric softener that has all the same chemicals. Plus I’m not doing it very often.


Do you Wash the Clothes First?

You should wash the clothing first, but I’ll be honest, sometimes I don’t. Because I’m a mom surviving. 


Can you do this on a Deep Soak Cycle?

Our washing machine drains after it has been sitting there so we can’t, but be my guest if you want to. Just take this little warning, washing machines are known to hold onto dirt, grime, and smells. I prefer to use a bathtub I can easily scrub down after stripping the laundry. 


dryer balls


What do you Use Instead of Fabric Softener or Dryer Sheets?


I do not like wool dryer balls. They seem to add more static and get more yucky stuff stuck to them. 

Instead, I use 4 of these dryer balls in my dryer and I NEVER over-dry my clothes which leads to lots of static. 


laundry stripping with whites

Can you do This with Garments and Whites?

Yes!! It’s perfectly safe for garments, towels and whites and you will love the results!

It’s ok that it’s hot water this one time, but generally you should only wash your garments in cold water to help avoid graying and fabric breakdown.

Do the Darks Just Release Some Dye?

I mean, some but not enough that you will think your clothing looks different. 


How Often do you do It?

I only strip laundry 1-3 times a year as needed. I worry about doing it too much. Especially since you are washing in hot water. 

Does this Get out Lasting Odors

I’ll be honest, we don’t have any clothing with odors but some of our wash rags do and they are perfect! I turned to our readers on this one and yes, it removed odors from stinky boy and husband clothes, haha. 



After Stripping do you Wash with Detergent?

I don’t always as you don’t need to, but most of the time I do because it grosses me out to see all of that nastiness. 


What Can You Use Instead of Tide?

If you’re allergic to Tide, which my goodness a lot of you are, you can use another powdered detergent, but Tide is the preferred. 


Do you Use Bleach?

I pretty much never use bleach. I don’t like that it breaks down the clothing and it’s such a harsh chemical. 


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About the authors

carrian feik cheney oh sweet basil

Cade and Carrian have three children and love to spend time together whether it’s vacationing or snuggled up on the couch for a good movie.

And this family especially loves to eat.

They love everything from the keep you fit and healthy to the get out your sweat pants indulgent and everything in between.

But most of all, they love the memories made, shared and treasured and it’s all thanks to a meal shared together with loved ones.

Leave a comment


  • Tide causes rashes in my family, i want to strip my clothes of perfumes, will fragrance free laundry soap work?

    • Reply
    • Yes, you can use a different powdered detergent though Tide is preferred for others who aren’t allergic.

      • Reply
  • Durant tide have lots of chemicals too? It’s not toxic free, right? Can you use a detergent that is considered plant based and non toxic??

    • Reply
    • Because I only use it every now and again for stripping, I haven’t worried too much. As far as I know there isn’t a great alternative. It actually pulls out all of the minerals etc. especially with at home detergents which leave behind so much film.

      • Reply

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