I made a lovely batch of homemade laundry soap this weekend. It is incredibly simple, frugal, and extremely environmentally friendly. I use Trent Hamm's recipe, and he's extremely detailed, so check it out if you want to see how he does it. I'm going to apologize in advance for not having the costs of my borax and washing soda, I've had my boxes for 2 years and I can't remember what I paid for them.
1/2 cup Borax (add more if you need more cleaning power)
1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (NOT baking soda)
1 bar of soap (people use different types, I use whatever I have on hand that is not scented, I think I used 5 little bars of hotel soap)
Approx 3 gallons of water
5 gallon bucket, or other large lidded container
Chop or grate your soap until it is in small bits. I have found it easier to chop the soap with a butcher knife, but I've also heard of people using a food processor. Additionally, to save time, I chopped 4 batches of soap at once and stored them for future use.
Bring 4 cups of water to boil. Once your water is at a rolling boil, add the soap bit by bit, and stir until it is all dissolved.
Let your soap soup sit on the stove for a bit. Meanwhile, fill your bucket with 3 gallons of water. Add your borax, washing soda, and finally your soap mixture. Stir until all of the washing soda and borax have dissolved. Cover and let rest for 24 hours.
After 24 hours determine how you will store your detergent. You can leave it in the bucket, or funnel it in to old laundry detergent bottles. I have previously left it in the bucket, but the detergent separates, so it work best if you can shake it up before each use. This batch I used a vinegar jug, laundry jug, and an OJ container. Use whatever works for you. Also, one other note, this detergent doesn't really suds, so don't worry if you peek in your washer and don't see a lot of bubbles.
Top Load Machine: 5/8 c-1 c per load
Front Load Machine: 1/4- 1/2 c per load
Trent has his cost breakdown, measurements, etc. here.
You can also check out my cousin Tonya's take on the recipe here.
We have a HE washer, and my last batch lasted us 7 months and I tend to do around 7 loads of laundry a week. I use this on everything from Emerson's diapers, to J.C.'s work clothes. It's fabulous.