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Why and How should we do laundry stripping?

I must confess that laundry stripping is my favourite spring cleaning task. It gives me an odd satidìsfaction to see all the funk coming off my seemingly clean laundry. So, without further ado, let’s see why and how I do it.

Why should we do laundry stripping?

Firstly, to get rid of hidden dirt. Our clothing, bed linen, towels, and other household fabrics absorb a lot of dirt, oils and other particles that we often cannot see with the naked eye. Laundry stripping will help deep-clean your laundry from this build-up grime.

Secondly, to extend the life of our favourite garments and linens. Instead of throwing away garments that seem dull or have a foul smell, stained towels and bed linen, why not give laundry stripping a go?

Thirdly, to get rid of set-in stains. Soaking your laundry in water with a concentrated cleaning formula can help remove stubborn stains that your washing machine cannot crack. 

Furthermore, to revive fabrics. Most of my laundry looks and feels new again after the stripping session. It can brighten up and revive some colours also. Most importantly, I manage to fluff up my cotton towels by simply getting rid of all that nasty grime trapped in the fibres.

How do we strip laundry?

Laundry stripping is very simple and does not require much time. And is inexpensive. You probably already have all you need in your laundry cupboard and pantry.

All we have to do is soak items in hot water with laundry detergent and baking soda. Other additives like citric acid, washing soda, vinegar, washing-up liquid, borax, stain remover, etc., help further boost laundry stripping results.

There is no universal recipe. You can create your own with what you have at home. And experiment by introducing other ingredients for your laundry stripping soup. 

The process is a no-brainer: fill a bathtub or a washbasin with enough hot water to cover the laundry you want to strip, add your mixture of detergents, let them dissolve, and add the laundry. Then, move everything around and leave it to soak for a few hours. Occasionally, stir the laundry to loosen up more dirt trapped in fabrics. That’s it.

I leave my laundry soak for 4 to 6 hours. Then, toss everything back into the washing machine to wash off the remaining residues and thoroughly rinse. 

A few basic laundry stripping recipes

My favourite universal laundry stripping recipe:

  • 1 cup of concentrated laundry detergent
  • 1 cup of baking soda
  • 1/4 cup of citric acid
  • 1/8 cup of washing-up liquid

Recipe for whiter whites

  • 1/4 cup of baking soda
  • 1/4 cup of washing soda
  • 1/4 cup of white vinegar

Recipe for stubborn stain removal

  • 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/4 cup of baking soda
  • 1/4 cup of washing-up liquid

Recipe for vibrant colours (soak in cold water, not hot)

  • 1/4 cup of white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of baking soda

Some considerations and safety precautions on laundry stripping

It is best to always check the garment’s care label before attempting laundry stripping. If unsure, opt for safer cleaning options.

Avoid using overly hot water as it might damage your items and might scold your hands. For that reason, I use warm water. So that I can keep my hand comfortably in. Furthermore, when stripping colourful items, use cold or lukewarm water, as they might start leaking colour. Which in turn can damage other items you soak. Indeed, I have some “colourful” experience with that. 

Abstain from stripping vintage and antique fabrics, as they might be too fragile to survive the adventure. 

Also, avoid stripping delicate fabrics such as silk, cashmere and wool, as this method might be too harsh and damage your garments.

Clothing with special finishing, e.g. water repellent, fire-resistant, waterproof, embellished, sequined, embroidered, etc., should never be stripped as it might compromise the properties of these items. 

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