I Thought I Ruined an Entire Load of Laundry—But There Was an Easy Fix

published Oct 1, 2020
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As an expectant mom to twins, saying there’s a lot on my “to buy” list is an understatement. So imagine my delight when a kind neighbor generously offered me a large box of baby clothes for ages newborn through 12 months. It was sort of like striking gold—I didn’t have to go shopping or pay the resulting credit card bill from such an excursion. 

The glory didn’t last long though. As soon as I received the clothes, I sorted everything: lights in one pile, darks in the other. But a rogue navy blue shoe made it in with the light-colored clothes—pure whites and baby pinks—and the second I opened the machine I knew something was very wrong. There were dark blue—we’re talking indigo!—streaks all over every last precious piece. I tried washing again to no avail—the stains were still just as prevalent. 

I was heartbroken, but had an idea: Maybe that laundry stripping hack I’d seen all over Instagram this spring could save me from my very big laundry faux pas.

How to Strip Laundry

  1. Add two capfuls of Branch Basics Laundry Solution, two scoops of Branch Basics Oxygen Boost, and hot water to the bathtub. (I filled it approximately one-third of the way.) 
  2. Agitate the water to thoroughly mix the solution. 
  3. Place clothes in the tub, adding more water, if necessary, to ensure everything is covered.
  4. Let soak for five hours.

A quick note on product choice: I used the products in the Branch Basics Laundry Kit, because, through much experimentation, I’ve found this one to be the most effective. That said, experts say you can effectively strip laundry with baking soda, if that’s what you have on hand. OxiClean, Borax, and other oxygenated cleaners will work, as well.

I was skeptical at first, as the water didn’t seem to be dirtying before my eyes the way I had seen on Instagram, but I continued on with the experiment nonetheless. Once the five hours were up, I drained the tub and wrung out the clothes. At this point, most of the stains had faded, but there were definitely still a fair amount of blemishes on the clothes. Still, I proceeded, tossing them in the washing machine on a regular cycle with a capful of Branch Basics Laundry Solution and a scoop of the Oxygen Boost. 

Imagine my surprise when a little over an hour later, I opened the laundry machine to discover just about every stain had disappeared. Out of the whole pile, I only had to toss three or four items. A big win, considering the position I had been in earlier in the day. 

How Laundry Stripping Works

So how, exactly, does this work? Laundry stripping removes excess product—like too much detergent, fabric softener, or, in my case, dye—from clothes and linens, laundry expert Patric Richardson told Apartment Therapy.

If you find yourself in a similar position as me and need to strip your laundry, it’s important to act fast, says Marilee Nelson, co-founder of Branch Basics. “Fresh stains are much easier to remove than those over 24 hours old.” And remember that persistence pays off. Had I given up after that initial load of laundry, I would have been out an entire box full of like-new clothes. “Stain masters don’t give up,” says Nelson. “It might take a few soaks to truly strip your laundry, but the results will be worth it in the end—as it’s an effective way to make linens and clothes feel like new.”