I got turned on to the idea of making my own laundry detergent about 2 years ago. It's a simple, inexpensive process, and is a great way for beginners to start eliminating unnecessary chemicals from their home.
All you need are a few ingredients and a little spare time.
You will need:
1 box of Borax (I believe it's 72oz, though it may be 76)
2 boxes of Washing Soda (55oz each)
3 bars of soap (Ivory, Fels Naptha, or Dr.Bronners, or any combination. I use one of each...Ivory because it's cheap, Fels Naptha because of the stain removal power, and Dr.Bronner's because it smells so dang good)
Optional: 1-2 cups of Oxi Clean
Grate the bars of soap. This is the most arduous part of the process. I do it while catching up on Dance Moms Miami. Or you could make your kids do it. It might sound like common sense, but watch your fingers. Cheese graters are sharp and I definately lost a few layers of skin making my first batch. (a cheese grater, a food mill, or a Kitchenaid processor all work very well)
In the biggest mixing bowl you can find, or in a paper grocery bag, mix all ingredients. Make sure the bag is sturdy to avoid having to sweep billions of Borax granules from your kitchen floor.
Pour into a container and get a-washin. Makes 1.5-1.75 gallons worth. I went to Walmart and bought two plastic gallon-sized storage canisters to keep it in.
One tablespoon cleans a full-sized load of laundry. Seriously. If you have a super grimy load of laundry, it may require 2 tbsp. I also use 2 tbsp for towels, just because they're so dang heavy.
My husband and I use a batch of this approx every 5-6 months.
Here is the best part: the cost breakdown.
One batch of this soap makes at least 300 loads of laundry (1 tbsp per load, 1 gallon = 256 loads, x1.5 =384 loads).
Fels Naptha $3/bar, Dr.Bronners $5/bar, Ivory $1/bar, Washing Soda $5/box (x2 boxes), Borax $6/box, Oxi Clean (the smallest canister) $3. It costs approx $28 to make enough laundry detergent for at least 300 loads of laundry.
If you bought Tide Free (the scent/dye free kind), 64 loads worth is $12 (the cheapest I've found it. You would spend at least $90 to buy enough Tide to clean 300 loads of laundry.
I know, right? AMAZING.
Plus, there aren't any freaky dyes, chemicals, or perfumes in it. It's pretty much exactly what your granny used to keep grandpa's knickers gleaming white.
I should also state: my husband has psoriasis and I have eczema, and neither of our skin conditions are exacerbated by this laundry soap. It's gentle enough for finicky skin and new baby bums.