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The Truth About Laundry Stripping

You’ve probably heard of the buzzy laundry trend “laundry stripping,” which uses bleach to literally strip away buildup, stains, and dullness on linens and laundry to reveal visibly cleaner, brighter, fresher-smeller fabrics. While effective, standard laundry stripping methods can be overly harsh on your fabrics, leading to damage over time. At The Laundress, our laundry stripping method looks (and sounds) a little different. We call it pretreating because it treats fabrics instead of stripping them raw, and it’s something we’ve been doing for almost 20 years! Our pretreatment delivers the same exact radiantly bright, fluffy, stain-free results as laundry stripping, just without all the chlorine-bleach, which means less wear and tear on fabrics. Ahead, more on our method and exactly how to give your clothes a transformational refresh that’s actually good for them:

Why Should I Pretreat?

Over time, certain detergents, too much fabric conditioner, body oil, perspiration, and hard water can sit on top of fabrics, leaving them less absorbent, not as fresh-smelling as you’d like, and a little dingy looking. Instead of tossing them or risking potential damage with harsh laundry stripping methods, you can extend their lifespan (and make them bright, fresh, and plush again!) by pretreating them regularly, and washing using plant-derived, dye-free Laundress detergent formulas that are designed not to leave heavy, waxy buildup in your fabrics. (Pssst: Don’t have time to pre-treat? Scroll down to the bottom for how to get the same results just by washing.)

What To Use

Scented Vinegar: This do-it-all formula works to neutralize odors at the source for both laundry and home surfaces. Used in a laundry presoak, it deodorizes and deep cleans fabrics, leaving them feeling renewed.


All-Purpose Bleach Alternative: Like an exfoliator for your laundry, these oxygen-based, chlorine-free beads activate in hot water to dissolve discoloration, dullness, and dinginess and unearth brilliance on everyday fabrics.

Stain Solution: Our liquid gold for stains targets both old, set-in stains and fresh ones thanks to fast-acting, efficacious enzymes that work on all fabrics, including delicates.

Extra Credit: Wash Tub BasinDryer Balls

How To Do It: Everyday Fabrics

Follow these go-to moves every couple of weeks on everyday fabrics to give clothing and linens that like new look and feel.


Ideal For: Towels, bedding, bathrobes, activewear, t-shirts, and uniforms made of cotton, linen, and durable synthetics


Fill a tub or basin with hot water and add ½ - 1 cup of Scented Vinegar and 1-2 capfuls white and light color-safe All-Purpose Bleach Alternative. Agitate thoroughly to activate, and add garments. Let soak 1-2 hours, then wash with Signature Detergent on a deep cycle. For extra heavy duty grime removal, drain the dirty water after 2 hours or so and repeat the process for another 2 hours with a new mixture before washing. To finish, tumble dry items with Dryer Balls (avoid dryer sheets, which leave a film on fabrics), and you’re done! Exceptionally clean, fluffy fabric perfection.

Pro Tip: All-Purpose Bleach Alternative and Scented Vinegar are not just great for pretreating - this powerful duo can eliminate grease and grime in all corners of your home. Get all the moves here: How-To Brighten & Deodorize

How To Do It: Delicates

Delicate items are more sensitive to water temperature and exposure, so only presoak odorous or soiled fabric as needed (we suggest seasonally) for a full refresh.


What’s It For: Knits, blouses, lingerie, scarves in fabrics like wool, silk and silk-like synthetics

Start by pretreating any sweat or food stains with Stain Solution. Fill your tub or basin with cool water and add ½-1 cup of Scented Vinegar. Do not use All-Purpose Bleach Alternative. Let soak for about 10-15 minutes, then rinse and let rest on a towel for a few moments before hand or machine washing with Delicate Wash or Wool & Cashmere Shampoo, depending on the garment type. Always air dry.

Pro Tip: Need more advice on how to launder delicates? Learn more in our go-to guide: Five Dry Clean Only Fabrics You Should Be Washing At Home

No Time to Pretreat?

Short on time and still want bright, beautiful results for everyday items like towels, bedding, and t-shirts? Simply add ¼ - ½ cup of Scented Vinegar and 1-2 capfuls of All-Purpose Bleach Alternative directly to the washing machine drum along with your everyday detergent, like Signature Detergent. Select a long, hot cycle and discover unbelievably clean fabrics in just one cycle, without frustrating product buildup or irreversible chlorine bleach spots. Bright on!


Learn more expert laundry moves:

● 7 Things You Didn't Know You Could Put In The Washing Machine

● Brighter Bedding & Towels In 10 Minutes

● The Trick To Removing Any Stain In 10 Minutes