I’ve posted about this on YouTube, but apparently, no blog post. So for posterity, here it is.
Why should I strip my laundry?
Fabric picks up oil from use. If it’s a kitchen towel, think about all the times you wipe your oily hands on it. If it’s a bath towel, thing body oils and lotions. Etc, etc. Fabric also gets “detergent build-up” from repeated washings. It’s normal. If your towels/clothes/bed linens no longer feel crisp or smell “off”, they probably need to be stripped. Once done, your fabric will be softer, more absorbent, and be brighter. If it’s still not white enough for you, then you should “blue” your laundry. (more below)
An aside: I first learned the benefits of stripping because I cloth diapered my child, and diapers become “off” REALLY fast, so I decided to apply that learning to the rest of my laundry.
Stripping vs. Blueing
If you search for “how to make my whites whiter” you’ll read a lot about blueing. However, one thing to clarify: stripping eliminates the problem whereas blueing makes your fabric “optically” whiter. An analogy: if you have a pimple, you want it to go away, you don’t just want to use foundation to cover it up. Blueing tricks the eye, but doesn’t eliminate the cause of the yellowing/dingeyness.
How to Strip
Get a giant pot and fill it about 3/4 with the fabric and cover with water. Add about 3tbl vinegar, 1tbl oxygen bleach, and 3tbl washing soda. Buy washing soda on Amazon here. Bring to a boil and then simmer for a few hours, stirring once an hour to move the fabric around. If your fabric is light you might need to weigh it down. Once it’s done boiling, run it through your washing machine.
You can also do this in your washing machine by boiling water on the stove and adding it to the wash on an extended wash and then adding boiling water during a rinse cycle. Run a second rinse cycle too. It works pretty well this way, although not the same as boiling for three hours (of course). But this was how I did my kids diapers and it worked well.
Then hang your laundry out to dry. NOTHING bleaches like the UV rays of the sun! And they also further neutralize odors. If you don’t like the “crispy” feeling of hung dry laundry, bring it in when it’s 90% dry and throw into your dryer.
How to “Blue” Your Fabric
Blueing is a process where you add a bit of blue tint to your washing machine to “cancel out” the yellow. It’s Color Theory 101. My mother-in-law is a big fan of blueing, whereas I am satisfied with my level of whiteness from stripping/hang drying. If you want to blue, here’s the product my MIL has used for decades which is really just blue tint (from minerals) and water…so not toxic.
I may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post at no additional cost to you. I only recommend items that I have personal experience with.