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How to Deep Clean Your Laundry with a Strip Wash

clean laundry room with a white front loader washing machine

It’s easy to think that a regular wash in the machine is enough to clean your laundry because it comes out smelling fresh, feeling softer, and appearing brighter and cleaner. But did you ever stop to think that even your dirty laundry might require a deep clean from time to time? 

Yes, your washed laundry isn’t as clean as you think it is, and a trend that has recently gone viral is here to prove that – they call it strip washing! When it comes to deep cleaning your laundry, it doesn’t get any deeper than a strip wash which does the extra work to remove buildup from detergent, fabric softener, mineral deposits, and hidden dirt and body oils that are masked by laundry soap. 

After hearing this, you probably want to deep clean all your clothes and linens right away! Well, now you can because we are sharing the right way to strip wash your laundry for a truly deep clean. Read on!

4 Things to Remember Before Strip Washing Laundry

woman hand washing clothes in a sink

It’s important to note that strip washing isn’t meant for all types of fabrics. In order to prevent damaging your clothing items and linen when deep cleaning laundry, keep the following warnings in mind:

  1. Because strip washing requires soaking the fabric in very hot water, check the labels to ensure that the material can tolerate heat.
  2. Avoid coloured fabrics unless they pass a colour fastness test.
  3. Do not strip wash delicate fabrics/items.
  4. Stick to the correct ratios to prevent more buildup or residue left on the fabric.

What You’ll Need to Strip Wash Your Laundry

blue laundry detergent, cloths and pegs on a white table

Make sure that you have all the items required for a thorough deep clean of your laundry. Avoid using alternatives or substituting ingredients that are not included in the list below:

  • Washing soda (also known as sodium carbonate)
  • Borax
  • Laundry detergent

How to Strip Wash Laundry

multicoloured clothes in a front loader washing machine

Now, it’s time for the step-by-step process to deep clean your laundry with a strip wash. Let’s begin!

Step One: Run a Regular Wash Cycle

It is not advisable to strip wash dirty laundry because the whole point of deep cleaning is to remove contaminants and buildup that is trapped within the fabric. Therefore, in order to do this effectively, surface level dirt must be removed first. This can be achieved with a regular wash cycle in your machine. 

Step Two: Prepare the ‘Strip Wash’ Solution

First, you need to figure out what you are going to soak the laundry in. This can be done in a tub, large bucket/basin, or even a top-loading machine, however, you will need to deep clean your washer thereafter. Strip washing contaminates the water during the soaking period as the dirt and detergent buildup comes out into the water, leaving it rather brown. This residue can get lodged in spouts or remain on the surface of the tub which will require a thorough scrubbing to remove. Regardless of what you choose to soak your laundry in, make sure that you clean it before and after the process.

If you are soaking the laundry in your washing machine, fill it up with hot water (using the hottest cycle option). Once filled, add in ½ cup laundry detergent, ¼ cup borax, and ¼ cup washing soda. For a half tub, use half the measurement of each ingredient. Use a long-serving spoon or heat-resistant material to stir the water so that the ingredients dissolve.

Step Three: Soak the Laundry

You can add in your freshly-washed laundry either wet or dry – it makes no difference to the end result; what matters is that the laundry is ‘clean’ before strip washing it. Put in each item one at a time (make sure they aren’t all bunched or rolled up). 

Allow the laundry to soak in this solution for a good 4-5 hours or until the water cools down completely. It helps to agitate the water from time to time by moving the clothing items around. During the soaking period, you will see the water beginning to change colour. This discolouration is a result of contaminants, detergent residue, and other buildup being removed from the fabrics.

Step Four: Rinse Off & Wash Again

Now that the strip wash solution has drawn out all the nasty buildup from your laundry, it’s time to give it one final wash. Before that, rinse off as much of the existing cleaning agent under running water, or dunk the items in a clean tub of fresh water.

There’s no need to wring any of the items after rinsing them; simply load them into your washing machine, and begin a regular wash cycle. If the washer tub was used to soak the laundry, it should be thoroughly rinsed and cleaned before finishing off the strip washing process. Leaving contaminants in the washing machine defeats the purpose of strip washing as they will cling to the fabrics, placing you back at square one!

When the wash cycle is complete, hang the laundry to dry, and observe the fabric thereafter. The difference in the results of deep cleaning and regular cleaning will be clearly evident. Strip-washed laundry looks cleaner, feels softer, and does not have an overpowering smell of detergent. Moreover, the proof is all in the nasty brown water it leaves behind! 

Strip washes are an amazing solution for difficult to clean and extra dirty clothing items. Your old dirty duvets, aged towels, sheets, the kid's sporting clothes can all be stripped washed.

The experts at Maid For You advise deep cleaning laundry every other month to remove detergent residue that dirt and body oils cling to. Luckily, you’ve just learned a simple yet extremely effective way to do that, and it’s called strip washing!

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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