For the last 3 years I've been making my own home made laundry detergent and been very happy with the results. I based my recipe on this one I found in 2013.
We have sensitive skin so I used to search all over for a detergent that wouldn't make us itch. I had been using Arm & Hammer dye- and fragrance-free but it was hard to find and cost more each time I bought it. I forgot to save the receipts but I'm estimating the cost this year to be about $16. For over 13 pounds of laundry detergent. Yeah, I know, amazing. It lasts us well over a year for two people.
Update 2018; it's now much easier to find borax and washing soda in supermarkets. Be SURE you get the box that says Washing Soda, don't just double up on the baking soda.
1 box Borax
1 box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
2 bars Zote Laundry Soap
or 3 bars Fels Naptha Laundry Soap
or 1 box Zote Laundry Flakes
(just be sure you're using a real soap)
4 lbs. Baking Soda
I like to powder the soap flakes in a food processor with some of the baking soda, 1/2 box at a time. This makes a smooth-textured mix, but you don't have to do it.
This is important so I'm giving it its own paragraph. You really want to mix this outside, the ingredients are not all that safe to breathe and will cause irritation of your nose and esophagus.
Mix thoroughly (take your time) in a 5-gallon bucket and package in re-purposed containers. Here I'm using a gallon ice cream bucket and a super-sized peanut butter jar. All you have left are recyclable cardboard boxes. You're not using petroleum-based chemicals on your skin or putting plastic back into the environment.
You only need 1-2 tablespoons of this detergent for each load because there are no fillers. The first few times I used it, the detergent cleaned all the gunk from the inside of the washer and it's been clean ever since.
I've found that the Super Washing Soda is a little tricky to find. For local people, I found it at Ace Hardware in Kingsland. I ordered it online, paid with Paypal and am waiting to get an email telling me to come pick it up. I found the Zote Laundry Soap Flakes at Lowe's in Llano.