I've been making my own detergent for about 2 or 3 years now. I can afford laundry detergent. I don't know why I keep doing this! I guess because I can. I also can my own beans, but I could buy them at the store too. I like being self-reliant. I can make yogurt, too, but I don't really think I save money on that one, so I don't do it. But I could if I had to! And I love that feeling, of knowing I am resourceful.
I posted on my Facebook page this week that I make my own detergent and promised I'd post my recipe here.
Once the soap is melted, pour 3 gallons of hot water into in 5-gallon bucket. To the 3 gallons of hot water, stir in the melted soap mixture. Once it's mixed, add the 1/2 cup super washing soda and stir until it's dissolved. Pour in 1 cup borax and stir again until dissolved. Lots of stirring!
You can add essential oils to your laundry detergent to make it smell good, but I never have.
Cover the container and place it somewhere it won't be disturbed. Let it cool overnight. It will begin to gel as it cools. You'll want to put it in smaller containers. I stir mine once it is "set" though because it does better in my new washer. There will not be suds in your washer using homemade laundry detergent. This was hard for me to get used to. I don't like to pour it directly on my clothes either, as it has left white "residue." I put the soap in the washer and let it run for a bit and then add the clothes. Works great that way.
Use 4 oz, or 1/2 cup, per load. One recipe yields 442 oz which should get you through 110 loads of laundry! The breakdown, price-wise, is about a penny per load. Not bad.