Edited to add: Now that the summer is hotter, the clothes are sweatier and the loads are larger, I find that 1/2 cup of this detergent is not enough for a high efficiency washer. I’m getting better results with 3/4 cup or 1 full cup for the largest and/or dirtiest loads.
Homemade laundry detergent really works! And it is very inexpensive. I made mine using this recipe found at http://www.thefrugalshopper.com/articles/detergent.shtml. Scroll down a little to see a recipe for powdered detergent too.
3 Pints Water
1/3 Bar Fels Naptha Soap, Grated
1/2 Cup Washing Soda
1/2 Cup Borax
2 Gallon Bucket
1 Quart Hot Water
Mix Fels Naptha soap in a saucepan with 3 pints of water, and heat on low until dissolved. Stir in Washing Soda and Borax. Stir until thickened, and remove from heat. Add 1 quart Hot Water to 2 Gallon Bucket. Add soap mixture, and mix well. Fill bucket with hot water, and mix well. Set aside for 24 hours, or until mixture thickens. Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load.
I already had Borax and Super Washing Soda (NOT the same as baking soda) so the only expense involved was a bar of Fels Naptha which was less than $2. This product has all but disappeared from grocery stores but is available locally at Stewart Brothers Hardware. All three products together would have been less than $10 and will last a long time. You can use Borax as a disinfectant and Washing Soda is great with soap to remove sticky grimy stuff. It is caustic however, so use gloves if you scrub with it.
Dissolving the grated Fels Naptha
adding water to make two gallons
You only need about 1/2 cup for each load, so this will last a long long time. I would have paid two or three times more for this quantity in the store and can make two more batches before I will need a new bar of Fels Naptha.
This detergent is ready to use as soon as it is made. After sitting overnight, it will thicken to the consistency of Ghostbuster ectoplasmic slime. It has a pleasant but not overwhelming scent that can be enhanced with essential oils if you choose. Clothes smell fresh, clean and not overly perfumed. This detergent works just fine in my HE (high efficiency) washer.
An added bonus is that none of the ingredients come in plastic packaging. Y’all try it and let me know what you think. Your checking account and the environment will thank you.