The Lazy Mom’s Guide to Laundry Stripping

laundry stripping

You may have already heard about the laundry stripping craze that’s hitting social media right now.

It’s not a new concept, but after being contained in their homes for months on end, people have started looking for entertainment in unconventional ways. Enter: Soaking your laundry in your bathtub with a concoction of different detergents for multiple hours and marveling at the glorious grime it produces from your “clean” laundry.

How is this must-see tv, let alone a must-do activity? I don’t know but jump on this fad because it’s gratifying in ways I haven’t experienced in I don’t know how long.

One day, someone in my Instagram feed posted a story about it. Suddenly I was following a cleaning company, glued to the results people were tagging them in. It’s a rabbit hole, people.

The idea of laundry stripping is to wash out the stuff your regular washing machine can’t take care of- build-up from detergent or fabric softener, body oil, hard water deposits… you know. It’s all of the stuff that keeps your clothes from smelling, looking, and feeling their best. 

I had been wanting to do it awhile and just hadn’t gotten around to it (this isn’t called the Lazy Mom’s guide for nothing). But I was finally prompted to give it a shot myself after my husband’s high maintenance dri-fit shirts went through the wash with some of our kitchen dishcloths, then accidentally got left in the dryer only partially dried for an hour or 15. His exercise gear couldn’t be coaxed to give up the stench even after laundering them all over again.

Since my husband is basically living in workout gear while he works from home I decided this was my opportunity to give laundry stripping a chance. Let’s see what all the hype was about.

Since I don’t use fabric softener, have a fairly new top load washing machine, and our water runs through a high-grade water softener, I was a bit skeptical of how much residue my clothes would really yield. I decided to follow the recipe put out by GOCLEANCO – give her an IG follow, you will not be sorry. But if you google “laundry stripping,” you can find a number of different suggestions. 

So here we go- my Lazy Mom’s Guide to Laundry Stripping with the recipe by GOCLEANGO:

1) Buy suggested cleaning supplies.

This might take you a few trips because we’re in a global pandemic which means naturally stores would be sold out of Calgon and Arm and Hammer Washing Soda. Everyone knows Calgon kills coronavirus so it makes sense it’s so hard to find. I eventually found everything at the commissary. Hats off to them for being stocked with all of the hard to find items during Corona2020. 

2) Gather the “clean” clothes you plan to strip.

Strip groups of like colors together like you would in your regular laundry. I also threw in a bunch of stained wash clothes that didn’t fit my color sort; I didn’t care if they became off-color, but I was tired of them being stiff even fresh out of the dryer. If you really want to kick this experience off with a bang, I suggest well-used exercise clothes or PT gear. I also hear sheets and towels are an eye-opening experience. I’ve got big plans for those sometime soon. 

3) Put the clothes in your bathtub and then fill it with the hottest water your faucet will put out.

Alternatively, supplement the hot water coming out of your tap with water that you’ve boiled on the stove and then hauled up the stairs, sloshing slightly and cursing under your breath the entire way because you have a governor on your hot water heater to prevent children from being burned. It’s nice that your children will never be scalded while bathing, but it’s darn inconvenient when you want to make clothing soup in your bathtub.

4) Mix together the following:

  • 1/4 c Borax
  • 1/4 c Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
  • 1/4 c Calgon
  • 1 generous scoop of powdered Tide
laundry stripping
5 minutes in, already dirtying up the water.

4) Dump the mix of cleaners into the tub and stir stir stir.

Just the initial soak yielded a weird brown color from my clothes. Yesssssss. Worth it already.

5) Stir every hour for the next 4-6 hours.

Set an alarm on your phone or you will forget. I highly recommend doing this on a weekend, because friends, this is an opportunity for a little you time.

Practice this phrase: “Hey babe, can you keep an eye out on the kids in the yard/take over baby feeding/help with this homework? My laundry alarm is going off, and I’m really working on those shirts of yours! No, no, it’s nothing you can do for me, I’d have to explain everything. You just sit here and I’ll take care of it.”

Now, stir those clothes with one hand and catch up on your fave IG stories with the other (like watching other people’s dirty clothes coming clean from laundry stripping! Wait, maybe I have a problem?). 

6) Pick up random clothes you see as you go about your day and toss them in the tub to soak, too.

Why not? You may already be 3 hours in, but a couple of hours of soaking is better than nothing at all. The more the merrier. 

There are still clothes in this tub. Can’t see them can ya? No. Because I’ve been living in filth.

7) Drain your tub and squeeze out some of the excess water.

Do this before loading your laundry into a bucket and taking it to your washing machine for a regular wash cycle. I didn’t add any detergent in, I just let it cycle clean water through. My mother-in-law suggested running them through the spin cycle first to take out some of the extra water, which would probably make sense, but I haven’t figured out how to do this on my newish washing machine, and looking it up seemed like far too much effort. The sopping wet clothes did just fine.

7.5) Wash your tub. Ick.



One word: WOW.

8) Dry clothes, then lay them out to fully admire how gorgeously clean it all looks and smells.

It was about bedtime when I finished this whole process so I just waited to fold them until the following morning. Then I could fully appreciate the clothes in the light of the day. It truly was noticeable- the colors were brighter, and the material that had previously been a bit stiff was now soft and silky. And best of all- no stink!!

So there you have it. Laundry stripping.

It’s the clean you didn’t know you needed but probably do. So start hunting down the detergents required and get going, ya filthy animal!

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Katie Nunnally
Katie has been an Air Force spouse for over 12 years, leaving her home town of Colorado Springs to explore exotic locations like Dayton, Ohio, then on to Ramstein, Germany, and then back to Dayton because her husband is a glutton for punishment and decided to get his PhD from the Air Force Institute of Technology. She's mom to four kids including one year old twins who are currently deconstructing everything she thought she knew about life, brick by brick. Her current life doesn't have room for hobbies, but she thinks she used to like meeting friends for dinner, running holiday 5K races, and going to the beach. You can find her at pearls.points.and.parenting on IG talking about mom life, trying to get back into a shape other than round, and laughing at memes.


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