Is Laundry Stripping Hogwash? Our Tests Find Out

Laundry stripping has become the latest trend on social media. So is it a useful hack or hogwash? We try and find it out with our tests.

What is Laundry Stripping?

Laundry stripping is the method used to completely remove detergent, hard water particles and body oil residues that are deeply embedded on textiles over a period of time.

The ingredients required for the process are Borax, Sodium carbonate aka Washing Soda and Laundry Detergent. These are taken in the ratio 1:1: 2 and dissolved in piping hot water. The clothes to be stripped are soaked in this water for 4-5 hours and then washed.

When you check the application of each ingredient, laundry stripping appears to be effective. Borax has a slight bleaching effect. The borates in the borax also dislodge embedded dirt in clothes. Sodium carbonate helps soften water and laundry detergent helps dissolve stains, body oil, minerals and dirt. 

But when you compare the laundry stripping ingredients with the components in your laundry detergent, you find that detergent does contain borax and sodium carbonate in a smaller dose. 

Is Laundry Stripping Effective?

On paper, laundry stripping looks quite effective as the ingredients used in the process have “special cleansing properties”. But experts beg to differ. Many believe that proper washing with the right amount of detergent is more than enough to “strip” the laundry.

Clothes retain a considerable quantity of embedded residues only if you use one of those soap-based DIY detergents for washing. Those who use softeners too may find their clothes embedded with unwanted residues. Otherwise, it is hardly a problem for most.  

Experts also state that laundry stripping is an ineffective and time-consuming method that doesn’t provide any substantial benefit. Washing delicate clothes in hot water could damage them. And if you use this process regularly, it could weaken and tear the fibre and as a result, prematurely age the clothes.

So, to see if laundry stripping can really do the magic, we tried it out. Here is how we did it.

How we tested?

To test the process, we soaked 2 bath towels in the laundry stripping ingredients and 2 towels in ordinary detergent solution. Then we rinsed all the bath towels in the washing machine and finally compared the stripped towels with the ones soaked in detergent. We also compared the murky leftover water from both processes.


On the left is the leftover water from laundry stripping and on the right is the leftover water from soaking in detergent.

You can see here the murky leftover water obtained from soaking in detergent and laundry stripping. As you can see, there is hardly any difference in appearance, making you doubt if the process is as effective as many claims. If you look closer, you might even find the laundry detergent solution greyer. 

In fact, the water that comes out of the washing machine is always grey. And it doesn’t in any way represent the level of embedded dirt removed in the washing process. 

laundry stripping

And here are the before and after photos of the washed bath linen. The difference is hardly noticeable. The only advantage we felt is that the laundry stripped whites looked a bit whiter owing to the bleaching effect of borax. But that doesn’t necessarily imply that it is cleaner.

So, we concur with the experts. Laundry stripping seems to be a time consuming and inefficient method. Also, borax could cause skin rash and respiratory problems in certain people. So, we would advise you to avoid adding borax to your regular laundry regimen.

The Right Way To Wash Your Laundry

The best way to keep your clothes clean would be to wash your clothes at an appropriate temperature using the right amount of store-bought detergent.

Avoid using soap-based DIY detergents as they are not as effective as store-bought ones. Moreover, your washing machine is designed to work with surfactants in detergents and not with soap.

We don’t recommend using fabric softeners either as the waxy coating left on clothes affect the ability of detergent to permeate into the clothes and also its water absorption ability.

Cover image courtesy:


Parvathy Pothan

Parvathy Pothan is the founder-editor of Smart Home Guide. She has been featured in All Recipes, The Hindustan Times, Mid-Day, The Print and other leading publications. She completed her graduation in Business Management from EHSAL European University College of Brussels. Following a brief stint at her family business dealing in home maintenance, furnishing fabrics and interior designing, she ventured out to start her own publishing business where she and her team strives to educate consumers and help them make an informed decision for buying home and kitchen appliances.

Read more posts by Parvathy Pothan


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