I definitely live sufficiently in the land of DIY to make my own laundry detergent. First of all, it's very easy to make. Also, commercial detergent is expensive, but its ingredients are cheap. I am also cheap. Score!
A word of obvious caution: it's not food! Don't eat it!
Here's what you need:
Washing soda, Borax, a bar of regular old soap, and a totally not pictured box grater.
Borax and soap are easy to find. Borax is plentifully stocked in your local laundry aisle, and soap is probably already in your bathroom cupboard, especially if you are prone to buying 10-packs of Ivory. Other kinds of unscented and castile soap work as well, I hear; Fels Naphtha is the brand given in most recipes.
Washing soda is Not easy to find, at least within walking distance of my house. It's also way overpriced on Amazon: $10! No. After a whole slew of grocery store visits (during which I noted the proliferation of Borax everywhere), I finally found some at Nob Hill, a store in which I would never have set foot were it not for this project. So, if you live in Silicon Valley, the Mountain View Nob Hill seems to be the best place to go. If you're having trouble finding it elsewhere, this thread might be helpful.
I used this recipe. Here's what you do:
- First, put on a painter's mask or something similar so you don't inhale any soap particles.
- Grate a bar of soap into a large bowl. This is by far the most difficult part of the project.
- Add a cup of Borax and a cup of washing soda.
DONE. Put your resulting laundry soap into a container of some type (such as a clean coffee can or large yogurt container), add a cheap 1-tbsp measuring spoon, and you're ready for laundry.
The resulting powder works great. I've been using one tablespoon in each large load to excellent effect. Also, I now have a huge stash of extra Borax and washing soda ready and waiting for the next batch, and the next, and the next, as each box is still about 85-90% full. In short, I will never buy laundry detergent ever again. Hooray!