I'm sure you've seen all of the homemade laundry detergent recipes are all over the internet. Liquids, powders, with Borax, without, you name it. I've used them, and they generally seem to work pretty well, but are they a better alternative for your laundry than a premium laundry detergent? They may not be.
Here's the thing: homemade laundry detergent recipes typically contain soap like Fels Naptha or Zote, not detergent. This is great for your wallet, but maybe not the best option for your clothes or your washing machine.
Because of this, I thought some more and came up with a semi-homemade laundry detergent recipe that has both surfactants and enzymes for a better clean. This DIY enzyme laundry detergent mixture stretches my laundry detergent for a more economical laundry option, doesn't put soap in my washing machine, and has surfactants which are essential for clean laundry.
Why use BIZ instead of OxiClean?
BIZ is a laundry booster, much like OxiClean, but unlike OxiClean, it is made with enzymes. Enzymes are necessary because they eat away at organic matter such as food particles, blood, grass stains, and more, which results in a cleaner load of laundry.
Why use Foca instead of Fels Naptha or Zote?
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 soap scum on your laundry or in your washing machine, and it also contains surfactants, which are also crucial for getting your laundry clean. In addition to surfactants, it also has enzymes.
I chose Foca because of the package size, cost, and it's biodegradable and free of phosphates, but you could use any powdered detergent you like. To err on the side of caution, it may be best to use Fels Naptha and Zote for what they are marketed for: as a stain pre-treater.
Note: Foca is not designed for HE washing machines. For me, this wasn't an issue since it is mixed in with other ingredients, so the full amount isn't used per load. I haven't had any problems with too many suds, but if you have an HE machine and aren't comfortable with using a non-HE detergent, you can replace it with another cost-effective powder such as All Free & Clear laundry powder.
How to make semi-homemade laundry detergent
Open all of the boxes of ingredients and dump them right in the bucket. Yes, all of it. I mix it up as each new ingredient is added to make sure it is combined evenly.
Why bother with extra ingredients, anyway?
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 as I do, using detergent alone may not leave your clothes looking as clean as you may like. Borax and washing soda softens the water while boosting the cleaning power of your detergent.
For ease of use, I 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 small jar helps with storage so I can keep the large bucket on a shelf in my garage instead of in my laundry room.
This whole homemade laundry detergent with Foca recipe cost me just over $18 for about twenty pounds of detergent that will last for months.
- Add all of the ingredients to a large container with a lid and mix to combine.
- Add a scoop
1. Foca is not designed for HE washing machines. For me, this wasn't an issue since it is being mixed in with other ingredients so the full amount isn't being used per load. I haven't had any problems with too many suds, but if you have an HE machine and aren't comfortable with using a non-HE detergent, you can replace it with another cost-effective powder such as All Free & Clear laundry powder.
2. You can also add a 2lb box of Arm & Hammer baking soda. I made a batch with and without and preferred the batch without the baking soda, but this is a personal preference.
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 because with the baking soda I felt like my laundry felt a little gritty. With just washing soda I found that I can use less detergent and my towels feel softer.
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IRIS Nesting Airtight Pet Food Container, Small
Foca Biodegradable Laundry Detergent, 70.54 oz - Walmart.com
20 Mule Team Borax Detergent Booster & Multi-Purpose Household Cleaner, 65 Ounce - Walmart.com
Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda Detergent Booster & Household Cleaner, 55oz. - Walmart.com
Biz Stain & Odor Eliminator, 60 oz - Walmart.com
Arm & Hammer Pure Baking Soda, 2 lb - Walmart.com
Natural fabric softeners
Many people who are looking for a DIY laundry detergent also prefer to use more natural products. In my cloth diapering days I tried out several different kinds of natural fabric softeners and many of them work quite well. If you would like to use a natural fabric softener, I highly recommend Ecover. Vaska and Mrs. Meyers are also good choices.
This post was originally written on February 24, 2015, and was updated on January 20, 2020