I recently experimented with home-made laundry detergent. There are a million variations on recipes for this, and everyone seems to have varied results when concocting them. I opted for the powedered variety. Here's my recipe:
1 Cup Borax
1 Cup Arm and Hammer Washing Soda - NOT baking soda and NOT A&H detergent.
1 Cup Baking Soda
1 grated bar of Soap
For those local to me: I got all of this stuff at Fred Meyer's in Auburn.
That's it. Dump them in, Shake them up (do not inhale!) and use as little as one tablespoon in your washer (I use a leftover scoop from an Oxyclean container, two for heavily soiled loads). It won't suds up, but let it agitate for a while, then take a peek. The murky water from your clothes is surprising and a little gross. Not only are my clothes just as clean, but I think they're softer, too. Bleach can be used with this detergent without problem. However, do not use bleach with any recipe or softener containing vinegar.
A few notes on the soap: Fels Naptha is the most commonly reccomended soap for this. I dislike the smell of it, and I understand it's made from animal fats. I'm no vegetarian, but the idea of animal fats on my clothes was enough to turn me off of using it. (Edit: Please see A Garden Girl's note about Fels Naptha in the comments- and then go check out her blog, it's got a lot of great ideas!) Zote is one that is also reccomended, as and Ivory is also a good option. I used Dr. Bronner's Lavender Castille bar soap, and I've heard of othes having success with Meyer's Clean Day. Soaps intended to moisturize your skin aren't reccomended. Use the smallest grating surface you have- if it's large, add detergent to your washer's hot running water and let sit for 30 seconds or so to help the soap dissolve, then switch to your desired temperature.
Two scoops of this plus a little extra washing soda shaken into the washer cleaned up Wednesday's poop mess. It's that good!
More great home-made cleaners are Here at Crunchy Peas.