But does laundry stripping work? Or is it just another lame online life hack like the one claiming toothpaste can be used to repair a cracked phone screen (Spoiler: It can’t.)
Patric Richardson, host of the “The Laundry Guy,” which streams on discovery+, says laundry stripping is the real deal, but only because people do their laundry all wrong.
On ExpressNews.com: San Antonio’s go-to home color consultant says the right hues can set the perfect mood
“People use too much stuff when they do laundry,” Richardson said. “They use too much detergent, and then they add fabric softener and dryer sheets. You don’t need all that to get clean clothes.”
Take laundry detergent. Most brands recommend using a minimum of one-quarter cup per load. That’s twice the two tablespoons Richardson recommends. And laundry pods are even worse. They contain enough concentrated gel to do up to five loads of laundry.
“Two tablespoons of detergent will get most laundry loads clean,” he said.
More than that, he explained, and the detergent won’t rinse away completely, allowing dirt, smelly body oils, hard water minerals and other stuff you’re trying to clean settle back into the fabric. Add to that the residue from fabric softeners and dryer sheets and eventually all this invisible grime builds up to the point where even freshly washed laundry can still be surprisingly dirty.
Laundry stripping involves soaking clothing and other fabrics in hot water mixed with laundry boosters. This cleans away all that leftover gunk, leaving fabrics softer and brighter and making towels more absorbent.
The yucky brownish-gray water it leaves behind is just a bonus.
On ExpressNews.com: Plant nurseries face spot shortages so you’ll pay higher prices
While stripping laundry is pretty simple, be prepared to commit several hours to the task. There are slight variations, but the most popular technique first calls for washing and drying the laundry to be stripped like normal. Some suggest adding white vinegar to the rinse cycle.
Next, dissolve one-quarter cup of sodium borate (Borax), one-quarter cup of washing soda and one-half cup of powdered (not liquid) laundry detergent into a bathtub, kitchen sink, large bin or even a top-loading washing machine that’s been filled with water both as hot as you can get it and deep enough to fully submerge the laundry. Add a pot or two of boiling water to make it even hotter.
Let the laundry soak for four to five hours, stirring it occasionally, until the water has cooled completely.
Remove the laundry and run it through a rinse-and-spin cycle without added detergent. Dry as usual.
In addition to a tubful of disgustingly dirty water — take a photo to show friends or post online — you should end up with laundry that’s softer, brighter and deep-down clean.
There are a couple of caveats: Laundry stripping can be harsh on fabrics, so do it only as often as necessary — when clothing starts to smell funky or towels feel slippery and lose some of their absorbency.
On ExpressNews.com: High-end laundry rooms now double- or triple-duty rooms
Also, don’t strip delicate fabrics, such as lace and satin or dry clean-only fabrics like cashmere.
To reduce the need to laundry strip, rethink how you do your laundry: Try using less detergent and jettisoning the fabric softener and dryer sheets. This also will save money and reduce the wear and tear on your washing machine.
firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @RichardMarini