One of the first things I tried was laundry soap. I looked at lots of different recipes and came up with what I thought would work for me. Here's what I tried:
1 bar of Zote laundry soap (I found this at Big Lots where I live, and I've seen it in Walmart in other places)
2 cups of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
2 cups Borax
1 cup Oxyclean or generic oxygen cleaner
Grate the entire bar of laundry soap with a cheese grater. I think you could also cut it into smaller pieces and grate it in a food processor, but I don't have one. I grated it, and then ground it up smaller in the blender. It worked much easier when I added some of the powdered ingredients to the blender, too. Then I just mixed everything together. I had a big gallon jar and it only filled the jar halfway, so I went and bought another bar of Zote (I think it was 97 cents) and made another batch. It filled the jar perfectly.
This laundry soap is SO inexpensive, and it works great! You only need to use one tablespoon for each load! Yes, you read that right, just one tablespoon. I made my double batch back in December, and it's maybe about halfway gone now in April, doing laundry for three and sometimes four people. Also, I've read that this type of laundry soap is perfect for HE washers, because it makes hardly any suds.
Now for the fabric softener. I decided to stop using those dryer sheets coated with nasty chemicals. For fabric softener I use a quart of white vinegar with about 10 drops of lavender essential oil and a teaspoon of rubbing alcohol. I add about one-half cup to each load in the little receptacle for fabric softener in my washer. The rubbing alcohol helps the vinegar and essential oil blend together. The essential oil and alcohol aren't really necessary, but I love the fragrance of lavender. You can just use straight vinegar if you want, and once your clothes are dry they won't smell like vinegar at all...just fresh and clean. This works great as a fabric softener and also gets rid of any leftover soap in the rinse cycle. The only thing it doesn't seem to do is control static. I'm still trying to figure out what to do for that. I've tried dryer balls, but they're not working for me either. It's a good thing the weather is getting nicer, and I can start hanging my laundry out on the clothesline again!
Coming up next...Homemade Face Wipes