Blogging just doesn't get any better than this, eh? I know that the dollar stores have inexpensive laundry soap, I've used the Sun brand and it isn't too bad. But I was intrigued by the thought of making my own, especially since the ingredients in home-made are pretty simple and the instructions are easy enough for anyone to follow. I tried it out today, and it seemed to do a good job, despite our hard--I mean really hard--water. Just don't use it for cloth diapers, as soap leaves a residue that will lock in the odors and lessen absorbency.
1/3 of a bar of Zote soap (but any mild soap could do), grated
3/4 cup Arm & Hammer washing soda
3/4 cup 20 Mule Team Borax
In a large pot, heat 3 pints of water. Add the grated bar soap and stir until melted (this could take a while, so I just stir frequently and keep it from simmering). Then add the washing soda and borax. Stir until the powder is dissolved, then remove from heat.
In a clean, 2 gallon pail, pour 1 quart of hot water and add the heated soap mixture. Top off the pail with cold water to make 2 gallons and stir well. At this point you can also stir in a teaspoon of essential oil--I used lavender.
Use about 1/2 to 1 cup per load, depending on the size of the load. I filled up 2 old gallon vinegar bottles. You do need to give it a good shake before pouring it out to use. Even better is a 2 gallon bucket with a good lid, so that you can stir it.