The first recipe I used was a simple powder, mostly consisting of washing soda, soap flakes and borax. With this formula, you needed a full CUP of it per load of laundry! While very environmentally friendly, it was also very expensive! I abandoned that one almost immediately.
Then a friend sent me a YouTube link to a video on how to make your own liquid laundry detergent. I watched it, thinking it must be pretty tricky to require visual instruction, but it wasn't. It was very easy and very cost effective!
So here it is:
First, boil 4 cups of water in a saucepan. Slowly add 1/2 cup of soap flakes. Turn the heat right down. You only need to dissolve the soap flakes, not cook them, and as soon as you start to add the soap flakes, the water will froth like crazy and if your water is still at a rolling boil, it will make a mess! Trust me, I now have a burner that smells weird when I turn it on.
In a large bucket, add 12 pints of warm water. Now add the hot soap water. Break up any soap clumps as you see them.
Add 1 cup of washing soda.
Add 1/2 cup of borax.
Mix it all up really well and let it sit for 24 hours with the lid on loosely.
This is what the finished product will look like.
Keep in mind that there are no stabilizers or other chemicals that make commercial detergents rich and creamy. This will have a slightly gelatinous texture and will have white 'floaties' in it. That's okay. It's supposed to look that way.
To save me from searching for the recipe when it runs out, I wrote it on the side of the bucket. And the question you all want answered:
Yes, it works very well.
I've had some messy loads to do and it got the job done! Which is great because this recipe is for a LARGE bucketful. So, I started using this detergent and as I threw my clean load into the dryer (it's winter, I don't like frozen clothes) and realized in order to combat the static (which tortures our kitties every time we pet them) is with dryer sheets! I was aghast that I had missed that detail! So next adventure: fabric softener and static cling destroyer!