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How To

The Truth About Laundry Stripping—And How To Do It Right

Nov 11, 2020

You may have heard about the newest “trend” in laundry, laundry stripping, the practice of removing buildup from fabrics—typically towels—that accumulate from detergent residue, fabric softener, minerals from hard water, and more. But get a load of this—laundry stripping isn’t new. The practice has been around for years, but as of late, social media has served up some pretty impressive before, during, and afters, featuring footage of bathtubs filled with filthy water—the result of stripping towels and sometimes sheets. Naturally, this has led people to question whether their laundry is actually as clean as they think it is. (Plus, all that grime is oddly satisfying to look at at.)

The thing is, laundry stripping can be harsh on your fabrics, leading to damage over time, which is exactly what you don’t want. The sweet spot is to use the right products and methods that are effective, but still gentle on your fabrics. That’s why here at The Laundress, we refer to our method as pretreating instead of laundry stripping. Here’s how to do it.

Why Should I Pretreat My Items?

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, you can extend their lifespan (and make them bright, fresh, and fluffy again!) by pretreating them.

How Often Should I Do It?

If you tend to use a lot of fabric conditioner, perspire often, or have fabrics that are odorous, you can use this method once a month or as often as you need.

laundry stripping

How Do I Pretreat them?

First, you’ll need a few important essentials. Here’s your toolkit:

Freshly laundered towels, All-Purpose Bleach Alternative, Scented Vinegar, Wash Tub Basin, Signature Detergent, OR Whites Detergent, and Dryer Balls

Begin by filling up your bathtub or a basin with hot water. Add one capful of All-Purpose Bleach Alternative and one capful of Scented Vinegar. Add your towels to the mixture, then allow to soak for 4-5 hours, stirring with your hands every now and again to help lift the buildup.

laundry stripping

Drain the water, then run your towels through a rinse-only cycle in your washing machine. To finish, tumble dry them with Dryer Balls (avoid dryer sheets, which leave a film on fabrics), and you’re done! Fluffy fabric perfection.

What Else Can I Pretreat?

This method actually works on most fabrics except for delicates like silk, lace, and woolens. If you feel these need a deep cleaning or they are odorous, soak in a capful of Scented Vinegar and cool water for 30 minutes before washing. Do not use All-Purpose Bleach Alternative. We especially love to pretreat our activewear and loungewear (too much buildup can reduce these items’ moisture-wicking properties), bathrobes, and bedding.

Get the tools you need

Shop the Story

All-Purpose Bleach Alternative

Whiten & Brighten

Add to Bag |
$15
Scented Vinegar

Clean & Deodorize

Add to Bag |
$12
Wash Tub Basin

Presoak & Handwash

Add to Bag |
$38
Signature Detergent

Everyday Laundry

Add to Bag |
$20.50
Whites Detergent

Whiten & Brighten Everyday Laundry

Add to Bag |
$20.50
Dryer Balls Set of 3

Eliminates Static & Decreases Dry Time

Add to Bag |
$18

Want one of everything?

6 items: $124.00

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