Clean freaks, germaphobes, and perfectionists, I have great news for you. There is a way to get your laundry cleaner than it has ever been.
It’s called “stripping” your laundry, and while it takes forever, it is also surprisingly easy.
If you’ve ever used cloth diapers, you’re likely to have heard of this stripping process before. Essentially, it’s a way to clean the living hell out of a material by soaking it in super-hot water and various cleansing agents. By stripping your laundry, you remove any residue from soap, laundry detergent, and fabric softener. You also remove mineral buildup from hard water, as well as any general ickiness that has built up in the fabric over time.
Stripping your laundry could be necessary if:
- You’ve been using a gentle, homemade laundry soap rather than detergent for a long time — especially if you’ve been using that soap on items that need to be absorbent, like diapers or towels. Homemade laundry soap can be great, but it also poses certain problems.
- You live in an area with hard water.
- You relish the idea of checking out how much leftover grossness you can remove from your laundry in one sitting.
But truthfully, stripping your laundry can be a useful practice for anyone, regardless of how you normally clean your things. It helps you determine just how clean your laundry is really getting, and it “resets” your laundry to a blank slate. And, no less important, it is oddly satisfying.
I wanted to strip my sheets mostly out of morbid curiosity. I first discovered the concept of stripping your laundry when I was making DIY laundry soap for the first time. It immediately made me wonder what would happen if I stripped my sheets, which I wash once every week or two, usually with regular detergent, in a city with quite hard water.
I sleep on those things every night, after all. If they’re getting super gross despite regular laundering, I need to know — and take photos and show everyone. Gotta love a photo of nasty laundry water!
Stripping my sheets took about seven hours total, but don’t let that scare you. Most of that time was spent just waiting around.
Would you, too, like to see how gross your laundry really is? Great! Let’s begin.