I don't really like laundry. It is not my favorite household chore. I especially loathed the feeling of dumping my money down the drain with expensive detergents. I'd feel like my clothes weren't going to get clean unless I used something pricey but who wants to spend all that money on soap?!
A few months back (I use a larger recipe now, same basic idea though) I started making my own detergent. It sounds like it would be complex and time-consuming but it is just the opposite. You're thinking that nothing will get clothes and diapers as clean as Tide or Charlies, right?
My girls are quite the rowdy little princesses at times and their clothes show it. Washing in the homemade detergent not only saves us tons of money but it is great on their clothes. It gets out every stain I've ever thrown at it with a little pretreating scrub and a spoonful of detergent. Lauren's diapers are clean and fresh. I've even washed kitchen towels used to wipe up a grease spill. Clean. I love it.
Shred one bar of soap. I started making detergent with Fels Naptha. But I wanted something a little less harsh with all the dry skin in this house. So I switched to Dr. Bronner's soap. It is fantastic. I think it cleans better than the Fels. It leaves our clothes very fluffy, fresh-smelling and soft.
Put the shredded bar of soap in a sauce pan. Add water - about 3/4 of the way full. Heat until soap dissolves, then add: 1 c. of washing soda and 1 c. Borax. Heat and stir until everything is dissolved and bubbly.
Fill a clean 5 gallon bucket half way with warm water. Pour in soap mixture and stir. Then fill bucket with water, cover and let sit over night.
Use about 1/2 cup of detergent for regular washers and 1/4 cup of detergent for front loaders. It is not a sudsy soap so don't expect the frothy bubbles you get with store-bought detergent.
The Dr. Bronner's soap I found was about $4.50 for the bar. (You could use Ivory, Irish Spring or any cheap soap you like. That will change your final price. This was the most expensive load I've made.) Each box of Borax and washing soda is around $2.50-3.00 locally. There is enough to make approximately 6 batches of detergent in each box. By my crude calculations that makes a 5 gallon batch cost around $5.50. With adding in the cost of water, a bucket (which are easy to find - used and cheap) and the expense of heating the soap let's estimate the total at $7.
5 gallons of quality detergent for $7. That is one hard-to-beat deal. You should try it.