This 3-Ingredient Laundry Hack Is Both Gross and Satisfying

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As an editor for a home and design site, I like to think I'm pretty up to speed in the weird-cleaning-hack department: Using mayonnaise on plants, seamlessly putting a fitted sheet back on a bed, even mastering the art of DIY produce disinfecting. But, I recently spotted a cleaning hack on Instagram that truly shocked me.

Two words: Laundry stripping.

That's right, after washing and drying your items as normal, there's apparently still an unsightly amount of hidden dirt and debris that is deeply embedded into the fabric. Gross, I know, but this is where "stripping" comes in. Denver-based cleaning company GoCleanGo posted an Instagram story, including step-by-step instructions, of the hack in action and, well, we'll let the pictures speak for themselves:

From left: Before the soak, the water turning brown mid-soak, and the leftover water after the soak.

Are you as disgusted/fascinated as we are?

Here's how it works: After your items have been washed and dried as normal, throw them into a tub of very hot water with a detergent mixture of 20 Mule Team Borax detergent booster, powdered laundry detergent, and Arm & Hammer washing soda. Let it sit for a few hours, mixing the contents every hour. (If you have a top-load washing machine, the brand says you can use that instead of a tub and just leave the lid open during the soaking period. If you have a front-load washer, you need to use a tub.) As the hours trickle by, you'll be shocked by the color of the once-clear water as the detergent mix pulls out the dirt and grime.

Before you freak out about your general cleanliness, don't be alarmed. As GoCleanGo explains, you are removing a bit of your leftover body oil, dirt, and bacteria that has built up over time, but you're also targeting residue from soap, laundry detergent, fabric softener, and mineral buildup from hard water. In the images above, she's cleaning her workout leggings, however, she says you can do this process on anything you think could use a nice scrub-down, including sheets, towels, mattress pads, rugs, sports equipment, etc. (She even made a TikTok as a handy guide.)

Ready to run your items through the cleaning ringer? Here is the full list of items you need and directions so you can get clean ASAP.

Laundry Stripping Instructions

Things You'll Need:

1/4 cup 20 Mule Team Borax detergent booster
1/4 cup Arm & Hammer washing soda (if you can't find, regular baking soda works, too)
1 generous scoop of Tide powdered laundry detergent
1/4 cup Calgon powdered water softener (optional, if you can find)

  1. Fill your tub with very hot water and add in your selected clothing/items.
  2. Add in the detergent mix and stir it in with the items, mixing until dissolved.
  3. Let it sit for four to six hours, mixing the contents every hour.
  4. Transfer the items to your washing machine, rinse in hot water — no need to add more soap since there is still some residual soap from the soak — and dry as normal. (Don't forget to clean your bathtub thoroughly if you used it!)

Katie is the Commerce Editor at Hunker. She has previously been on staff at Shape Magazine, Well+Good, and PureWow, and has spent her life perfecting the art of online shopping.

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