Homemade laundry detergent recipes are all over the internet. I’ve used them and they generally seem to work pretty well. Being a cloth diapering mom, detergents are a hot topic and are something that you have to think a lot about. More so than the average person washing their normal laundry.
Because of this, I started thinking about my homemade laundry detergent and started wondering if my laundry is really getting clean. Oh sure, it looks clean and doesn’t smell but a typical homemade detergent recipe doesn’t contain surfactants or enzymes and these are important components for getting clothes clean. So I thought some more and came up with a semi-homemade recipe that has both surfactants and enzymes for a better clean.
- 1 (76 oz) box of Borax
- 1 (3 lb 7 oz) box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
- *optional – 1 (4lb) box of baking soda
- 1 (60 oz) box of BIZ detergent booster
- (2 lb) powdered laundry detergent that contains enzymes and a surfactant (for this batch I chose Foca because it is biodegradable and free of phosphates)
- (optional) 1 container of in-wash scent booster (don’t add if you will use this detergent for cloth diapers)
*Note: my first version of this used one box of washing soda and a box of baking soda. For my second batch, I took out the baking soda and I prefer it. With the baking soda I felt like my laundry felt a little gritty, but with just washing soda I found that I can use less detergent and my towels feel softer.
Why BIZ and Foca instead of OxiClean and Fels Naptha?
BIZ is a laundry booster much like OxiClean but unlike OxiClean it is made with enzymes. Enzymes are important because they eat away at organic matter such as food particles, blood, grass stains, and more which results in a cleaner load of laundry.
Foca is a detergent, not a soap. Soap is made from oils and/or fats, detergent is not. This means that it won’t leave a soap scum on your laundry or in your washing machine and it also contains surfactants which are also important for getting your laundry clean. In addition to surfactants, it also has enzymes. It is biodegradable and phosphate free so it is more environmentally friendly than many other commercial detergents.
Why bother with extra ingredients?
You may wonder why, if I’m using commercial detergent anyway, would I want to go through the trouble and not just use commercial detergent. That’s a fair question and the answer is that with this method, it gets our clothes clean while stretching out our laundry dollar. Also, when you live in a hard water area like I do, using just detergent can leave your clothes looking less clean that you may like. Borax and washing soda soften the water while boosting the cleaning powder of your detergent.
*Note: you could use any powdered detergent you prefer. I chose Foca because of the package size, cost, and it’s biodegradable and free of phosphates. Foca is not designed for HE washing machines but for me this wasn’t an issue since it is being mixed in with other ingredients so I am not using the full amount. I haven’t had any problems with too many suds.
I make my detergent in a big bucket. In fact, it’s an old kitty litter bucket but you could use a home depot bucket or any other 5 gallon bucket of your choice. I open all of the boxes and dump them in the bucket. Yes, all of it. I mix it up as each new ingredient is added to make sure it is combined evenly.
For ease of use, I then fill my glass detergent jar to keep in the laundry room along with a 1/4 cup scoop. I use 1/4 – 1/2 cup of detergent depending on the size and soil level of my load. The bucket then goes on a shelf in my garage. This whole recipe cost me just over $17 for about twenty pounds of detergent that will last for months.
If you would like to use a natural fabric softener I highly recommend Ecover. Vaska and Mrs. Meyers are also good choices.
Another note: I used this detergent for two loads that had cloth diapers in them to see if they would get clean and they came out fine, however, we are only using diapers at night and washing cloth diapers part-time. We are also no longer washing diapers with solid waste in them. If you decide to try it on diapers be aware that Foca does have optical brighteners in it. This doesn’t bother me because so does Tide and that is my cloth diaper detergent of choice.
Have you ever made homemade laundry detergent?