One of my favorite ways to save money is to make my own laundry soap. It is so easy to do and it seems to work good. Mac, who is 12, is an ice skater and a cheerleader, so lots of dirt there and Michael is 17 and, well, a boy and you know what teenage boys smell like. We have been using this laundry soap for about 9 months with no problems at all. It costs less than $9 initially to make and it tends to last us around 5-6 months. Not too bad since just looking at the price under a container of Tide almost caused me to have a stroke. I will never again pay that much for laundry soap.
All you need is a box of Borax, which is also good for killing fleas in your carpet by the way, a box of washing soda, and a bar of soap such as Fels Naptha, Zote, or Kirk's Castile. In my area, the Castile soap is hard to find. I bought some at Meijer and it worked fine but the Walmart by me has both the Fels Naptha and the Zote so I buy a bar of each. They cost $1 and the Borax and Washing Soda are each less than $4.
You are supposed to use 1 cup of Borax, 1 cup of washing soda, and 1 bar of the soap grated. You can also add some drops of essential oils if you'd like but I like the smell of the soap so I don't. They aren't that expensive since you'd only use a few drops but I prefer not to use them. To each his own. Anyway, Zote soap is BIG so I count that as 2 bars and I grate it and the Fels Naptha on my big cheese grater. My hand gets tired after a while but it probably only takes me about 10 minutes to do it. Word of caution..DO NOT get the bright idea that your food processor would be perfect for this step. It's not pretty. Since I grate the 2 bars, I count that as 3 since the Zote seems like a double bar to me. So for 3 bars I mix the grated soap with 3 cups of the Borax and 3 cups of the washing soda. I put mine in a big ice cream bucket and keep it by the washer. You just need 2 Tablespoons per load. I keep a little 1/8 cup scoop in my bucket with the soap.
It will dissolve in cold water, eventually, but I start it on hot and swish it around then switch it to cold. Oh - the repairman told me once that you shouldn't just change from hot to cold without pulling the knob on the machine first and stopping it because that will ruin your washer! He said it's like shifting your car into gear without coming to a stop first and we all know how expensive transmissions are. I don't know if that's true or not but I do it and my old washer is still going strong!
So that's it! Homemade cheap laundry soap that works! For me anyway!