I hate buying laundry detergent because it's incredibly expensive, especially if you get the good stuff without the nasty ingredients and fragrances. I've been playing around with the idea of making my own detergent, and I finally took the plunge. It's actually quite simply and amazingly cost effective. There are only three ingredients - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda, Borax, and soap. I used my own unscented cold process soap I made back in January. Even if you have to buy the soap, your total cost could be around $8, and this makes a lot of detergent: I would estimate about 100 loads. Plus, you'll have tons of washing soda and borax left over for your next batch.
1 cup Arm&Hammer Washing Soda $2.50/3.9 lbs
1 cup Borax $3/4.75 lbs
2 cups Cold Process Soap* $2.50/~4.5oz
1 tsp Essential oil or fragrance oil (optional)
*When choosing your cold process soap, make sure it's vegan and doesn't contain tallow or lard. You don't need conditioning oils, so look instead for cleansing oils like coconut oil and palm kernel oil.
Step 1: Grate your cold process soap. I used the medium grade so that the soap didn't get stuck in the tinier grates.
Go ahead and use up the whole bar. You should have approximately 2 packed cups - if the measurement varies a little bit, that's okay.
Step 2: Add the curly, grated soap bits of soap to a food processor.
I don't think this step is completely necessary, but it will ensure that the soap dissolves easily in your washing machine. It does turn the soap into smaller bits that mix better with your other ingredients. I also added a bit of the washing soda so that the soap wouldn't stick together as it was getting shredded.
Step 3: Mix your 2 cups soap bits with 1 cup of A&H Super Washing Soda and 1 cup Borax. If you would like to add fragrance, add 1 tsp essential oil or fragrance oil by droplets to the mixture. I recommend mixing in a large, lidded container. I used a 1 gallon container with a snap top. All you have to do is shake it to mix. If you don't have something similar, you can always stir the ingredients in a large bowl.
Step 4: You're done! Use 2-3 tablespoons per load. I've also heard you can use vinegar in the rinse cycle as a fabric softener, but I've never tried it. Let me know how your detergent works, if you have a different recipe, or if you've got other laundry tips to share : ) Enjoy!