Thanks to my frugalista sis-in-law, Carrie, I have discovered the benefits of making one's own laundry detergent: chemical-free cleaner for clothes (which go against your skin) and seep up from back yard septic system, and best of all- lots of $ saved! When you do the math (which I'm not especially saavy at doing), you find that quite a chunk of grocery money goes into a $15-$20 container of detergent, which lasts maybe three months...(for a small family). A three gallon batch of this stuff costs us about $1.75. It's worth the effort.
So here's how you do it:
You will need...
1 cup Washing Soda <$3 a box
1 bar of Fels-Naptha (or any basic bar of soap like Ivory, or Zest) $1.00
OPTIONAL a few drops of essential oil (I use lavender & tea tree)
The first three items are available in the laundry section of most stores- the essential oils are at health-food or craft stores.Grate the bar of soap. It's easier than it seems; it grates like parmesean or any hard cheese.
Boil 4 cups of water, then stir in the grated soap until it is dissolved. This usually takes me about 5 minutes.
Pour the 1/2 cup of Borax and cup of Washing Soda into a large container. I bought a 19 quart container for this purpose.
Fill it up with approx. 3 gallons of hot water. While it is filling, stir in the melted soap.
Stir the mixture until everything is dissolved. Then, wait. In about 3 hours, the top layer of detergent will thicken and become like jello. I like to stir mine up one last time so that the mixture is more uniform. Because it is more concentrated than normal detergent, you can use less per load. I just eyeball the amount in an old measuring cup. We have experimented on David's daily dirt-caked attire and this stuff is just as effective as any.
VOILÁ! Happy laundering.