Have you ever tried making homemade laundry soap? I have, many times, with varying results. I finally found a recipe that works for me that I'm going to share here. Most recipes use simple, easily obtained ingredients that are sold in either local grocery/department stores or available online. I like being able to make my own laundry soap because it gives me a sense of accomplishment that I've made something useful. (I am woman, hear me roar and all that!) I also like knowing that, in a pinch, if I need to, I can whip up something to do a load or two of laundry in case I run out of laundry soap.
I've found, however, that homemade laundry soap is one of those things that people either love or hate. They have mixed reasons for trying it. Some people do it for economic reasons, some for environmental reasons, and some for personal reasons such as having sensitive skin. Other people have tried it and rejected it because they felt it didn't clean their clothes well, it didn't smell right, or it was more work than they were willing to do. If you are willing to stick with the process, you can often adjust the ingredients to develop a laundry detergent that works for you and your situation.
Most recipes call for a grated bar of some sort of soap such as Fels Naptha, Zote, Kirk's Castile soap, or Ivory Soap along with water softeners and laundry boosters such as washing soda or borax. Grating a big old bar of soap can be tedious, even with a food processor, because once everything is mixed, most people prefer to run it through the food processor yet again to grind the mixed ingredients into a fine powder. That's kind of pain. If you don't have a food processor, you'll have big curls of soap shavings in your dry mix. That is unless you use the liquid soap recipe. That tends to make a big, gooey bucket of laundry soap akin to slime. However, there are recipes using liquid soap that are very easy to make, work well, and are very gentle.
My favorite recipe uses Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap. It comes together very quickly. It's easily mixed, it's not messy, it's not slimy, and it is has concentrated cleaning power in a very pourable consistency. The recipe is below, with some notes.
HOMEMADE LIQUID LAUNDRY SOAP WITH CASTILE SOAP
1 cup very hot water
1 cup Dr. Bronner's castile soap, any scent
1/2 cup washing soda*
1/2 cup borax*
1 gallon clean, empty container
INSTRUCTIONS: Place borax and washing soda in a small pitcher or cup (easier to pour). Add 1 cup very hot water (or more) and stir until washing soda and borax have dissolved. Pour into gallon container. Add castile soap. Do not shake! Cap container and tilt back and forth to mix soap, washing soda, and borax. Remove cap and slowly add cold water until container is full, leaving enough room to mix. Again cap container and tilt back and forth to mix. Allow to cool, shaking periodically to blend. This will be a very thin, watery detergent, but it works very, very well and has a wonderful scent.
If you shake the ingredients before filling the container with water, it will make suds. Then when you add the cold water, it may overflow the container. Tilting the container back and forth several times will mix the ingredients without generating suds.
TO USE: Measure out 1-2 tablespoons of laundry soap into dispenser or bottom of washing machine, and launder as usual. You may need as much as 1/4 cup if there are tough stains or the laundry is extra dirty.
*NOTE: The standard recipe calls for 1/2 cup each of washing soda and borax. I have found that for our type of water, it is better to adjust the ingredients to be 3/4 cup washing soda and 1/4 cup borax because we have a high calcium content in the water so need a laundry additive that has a higher acidity. If you use the regular recipe and find your clothes are not getting clean, try adding 1/2 cup of white vinegar or 1/2 cup lemon juice to the wash to further soften water and chelate any metals present in your local water supply.