You can usually find cheap laundry detergent in grocery and drug store ads, while the more expensive Tide consistently rates highest in magazine surveys. Whether you buy the cheapest laundry detergent you can find or splurge on the most expensive, you may find that you still have to pre-treat stains and use Clorox with your whites. It could make you wonder if making your own laundry detergent might cost less and work just as well.
I've found that this recipe for homemade laundry detergent gets my family's clothes cleaner than low-end commercial laundry detergent. The clothes come out smelling fresh and clean, too.
1 bar of Zote pink laundry soap, grated
2 1/2 cups washing soda
1 1/4 cup OxiClean
1 1/4 cup Borax
The laundry size Arm and Hammer baking soda and Borax boxes together cost less than $7 at Walmart and will make multiple batches of laundry detergent. You'll need to spend a buck on the bar of laundry soap for each batch.
I already had a box of OxiClean on hand. I haven't had good experiences with other brands of oxygen cleaners, so I stick with real OxiClean these days.
The most time consuming part of this process is grating the soap. You can delegate this task to older children by saying you have a really fun job for them to do. They'll probably think grating soap is a hoot and will love the smell of it.
Mix everything together in a large bowl with a lid and keep a 1/4 cup measure in it. That amount should cover the largest loads. Reduce it to 1/8 cup for smaller loads.
I still pre-treat stains and use a liquid fabric softener, plus Clorox with my whites. Homemade laundry detergent costs pennies per load and takes little effort to make.