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Laundry Stripping Using a Washing Machine

Updated: Jun 27

Have you tried the extremely satisfying task of laundry stripping? Laundry stripping recipes have been flying around mom groups and passed down from mother to daughter for years, and now it’s retaking the internet by storm. I shared a post and video over a year ago with directions for stripping your laundry in the bathtub. Now that I am in a new house with a washing machine that does not lock and stops the wash cycle as soon as you open the lid. I LOVE IT, NO BATHTUB REQUIRED! So, what was one of the first things I did? I started experimenting with laundry stripping IN THE WASHING MACHINE. It works, it’s definitely easier, and the best part is that the washing machine does all of the work for you. I love not hauling heavy tubs of wet dripping laundry from one end of the house to the other.

Laundry stripping is by far one of my favorite laundry hacks. My recipe keeps new whites from ever becoming dingy and breathes new life into your old whites. I appreciate that this solution keeps my clothes looking new and fresh. Laundry stripping saves you money as your clothes will wear out before they ever become dingy.

Laundry Stripping Using a Washing Machine


Traditionally speaking, stripping laundry is removing detergent and fabric softener residue from your fabrics. This includes the build-up of hard water minerals that you aren’t able to remove from your laundry with each regular washing. Laundry stripping is a really common discussion topic on laundry and cleaning forums.

The “normal” way to do laundry stripping consists of filling the bathtub with hot water, soaking laundry in the “special” recipe of ingredients, stirring the laundry regularly, watching for that satisfying dirty water that appears after a few hours, rinsing, and laundering as usual. It’s a process!

Sure, laundry stripping is satisfying, but it is also a lot of work. So let’s talk about a much easier way to strip your laundry; In the washing machine.

First, there are a few things to look for to determine if you can use your washing machine to strip laundry.

  1. Does your washing machine have a soak cycle?

  2. Does your washing machine have a pause button or can you open the lid to stop/start the wash cycle?

  3. Does your washing machine lock or not?

  4. Remeber there are also differences to a top loading versus a front loading washing machine.

  5. Does your machine use low water levels, if so do you have a variety of water level settings. Choose the highest water level.

Laundry Stripping INGREDIENTS:

Ingredients in the whiter whites laundry stripping recipe.

Laundry Stripping Ingredients

How To Strip Laundry in the Washing Machine:

The features of your washing machine determine the process you have to use to strip laundry.

Set the washing machine to HOT and SOAK – every machine is different but the premise is that you want the water as hot as it can get and you want the laundry to soak for a minimum of an hour or two.

Let’s Get Started:

Begin by gathering up all of your white clothing, towels, and linens. You don’t want to overfill or crowd your washing machine.

If your washing machine does not lock while filling start by adding an inch or two of water into the bottom.

If your washing machine locks then now is the time to add your clothes.

Add all of the ingredients listed above into the water. (I like to add the dry ingredients first and then the wet ingredients. I also add them at the back of my machine right under where my water pours into the washing machine).

If you have a locking machine add the recipe ingredients on top of the clothes. I would sprinkle it all around to try to disperse it as much as possible.

Continue filling the washing machine until 3/4 of the water has been added.

If your machine locks here is where you turn it on to fill the water. If your machine uses low water levels and has a variety of water level settings, choose the highest water level.

Add all of your dirty white clothes and linens.

Add the Dirty Whites to the Washing Machine

Finish filling the washing machine.

Make sure the clothes and linens are fully submerged under the water. Use your hand or a large spoon to push them down.

The machine settings I use are HOT WATER, HIGH SPIN, HEAVY SOIL, and SOAK (If you have it). I don’t have a soak, but I just open the lid of my washing machine or use the start/stop button.

Agitate the clothes and linens to get them mixed around as well as to dissolve all of the laundry stripping ingredients.

Pause/Stop your washing machine.

Every 30 minutes (or whenever you remember or walk by) start the cycle and let the whites agitate half a minute to a minute.

Pause/Stop and let them sit and soak again.

Repeat as long as you want. I generally strip my laundry for 8 hours. I would strip for a minimum of 2 hours. You can leave the whites in as long as you need.

Dirty Water After Laundry Stripping for About 8 Hours

Start the wash cycle and allow it to complete.

Once the laundry is rinsed and clean, put it in your dryer and dry as usual! After they are dried it is time to enjoy your wonderfully clean laundry.

Tips and Tricks for Laundry Stripping in the Washing Machine:

Leave the white clothing and linen in a minimum of 2 hours up to 8 hours or more.

If the water looks excessively dirty you might want to strip a second time.

Laundry stripping works great for maintaining the whiteness of new clothes, but is especially useful if your whites are dirty and dingy.

Use the hottest water you can get. Sometimes I even add boiling water when I agitate to ensure it stays hot.

Repeat this process once every 3 months. I, Emmaline, use seasonal changes as a prompt to strip my laundry. Otherwise, I repeat this process whenever I think I see dingy whites.

As a bonus, the solution does a great job of cleaning any gunky buildup in your washing machine.

Most likely if you have a front load washing machine it locks and you will need to stop/pause the machine to soak.

Dirty Whites

Clean Whites

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