The truth of the matter is that I was ready to throw in the literal towels. I have a deep affinity for textiles of all types. Tablecloths. Dishtowels. Curtains. Rugs. Comforters. Linens. Towels. All of it! I love it all.
I wanted towels like the ones I’ve used at fancy hotels and I cannot tell you how many towels I’ve purchased over the years. I’ve tried white towels, yellow towels, printed towels, striped towels. No matter what, they all seemed to have a short life once they hit our household. They got (there is no other way to say it) gross. It felt as if, no matter how much I washed them, they never were clean.
And then I heard about stripping.
Here’s the thing: the detergents and fabric softeners I was using caused build-up on my towels (and my sheets and my jeans and my tee shirts and all my other textiles). Instead of getting as clean as possible, my towels and other items were getting coated. Yep. They smelled good and they felt soft, but they weren’t really clean. Not only that. My towels lost their absorbency.
So, just before I made a run to HomeGoods to buy more new towels, I gave stripping a try.
It was super easy. I filled up the bathtub with super hot water. To that hot water, I added 1/2 cup of Borax, 1/2 cup of Washing Soda, and 1/4 Fels-Naptha soap flakes. To make the soap flakes, I used a box grater. So easy! Then, I swirled everything around in the water until it was dissolved, and I added four towels to the mix. The towels soaked for about five hours and then I drained the tub, wrung the water from the towels, and put them in the washing machine on the express cycle, using hot water and one rinse cycle.
When it was time to switch the towels from the washer to the dryer, I knew I would not need to go to HomeGoods for new towels. The stripped towels were so clean! Clean laundry. I mean, there was a noticeable difference between the towels that went into the tub and the ones that came out of the dryer.
Lots of people say the water in the tub is super dirty when you take the towels out, but I didn’t really think it was that bad. More than anything, stripping the towels removed them of the coating that had been smothering them. The laundry detergent (anything like Tide, Gain, Cheer, etc.) and fabric softener (think: Downy, Snuggle, and even dryer sheets) we used to buy contain chemicals that make textiles smell nice coming out of the dryer and feel soft when folding the laundry. But, those chemicals trap in odors and even bacteria that we were using over and over again.
Not only that, but the Borax/Washing Soda/Fels option is better for the environment. There is less chance of gunking up the inner workings of the washer and dryer, and the more natural ingredients mean harmful chemicals aren’t being released into the environment.
My stripped towels passed the ultimate test. They smell amazingly clean — as in, absent from odors — when using them after a shower, and they are noticeably more absorbent.
The cost of my new laundry products was less than $20 and will last for many loads of laundry. You only need about a tablespoon of Fels soap and 1/4 cup each of Borax and washing soda for each load. The Borax and Fels combine to get textiles clean and fresh, and the washing soda softens the water so that the Borax and Fels can get into and through the fibers to lift the dirt and germs away.
Stripping isn’t just for towels, by the way. I’ve stripped my clothes, sheets, and comforters and I’m so glad I did. Using Borax, Washing Soda and Fels is my new go-to laundry hack. I can’t imagine ever going back.
Have you tried stripping? Will you? Let me know what you think!