Well, I've been reading a lot about this on the net and finally decided to try it for myself. There are a million and one variations but it's basically the same recipe.
Here are the ingredients:
1/3 bar of Laundry soap like Zote or Fels Naptha OR 1 whole bar of Dove soap (any bar of soap would probably work, I saw someone use Irish spring and lever 2000) I used the pink Zote found in the laundry section @ Walmart
1/2 cup of WASHING powder (I found one made by Arm and Hammer @ HEB in the laundry section)
1/2 cup of Borax (I found mine @ Walmart in the laundry section)
a large 5 gallon bucket
Grate up your soap. ( The Zote was really easy with my hand cranking grater, and even looked a little yummy sitting there in the bowl lol)
Boil 6 cups water and add in your soap a little at a time. Keep stirring until the soap is completely melted. It will foam up a little but not too bad.
Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved. Remove from heat.
Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket. (not sure why it has to be hot but I just followed the directions and did it) Add your soap mixture and stir.
Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir. Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel (I covered mine with saran wrap) You use ½ cup per load, and do not be surprised, as the soap does not foam up during use.
Depending on which soap you used, it will gel in different ways. More than likely it will need to be shaken before each use. I was a bit worried after seeing some of the finished products online (check out videos on youtube), because a few were rather blobby and seperated, but mine did gel rather nicely and aside from being "slightly" on the wet side, I like the results. It is a pale milky pink in color. Also, smell will change depending on the bar of soap you use. (If you use a scent free soap, you can add a drop or two of essential oil). The pink zote has a lemony fresh smell that I really like and reminds me of my grandma's old laundry soap for some reason, so it has a sense of nastalgia for me, an added bonus. I've only washed a few loads, but so far there is absolutely no difference in performance to me and I am comparing to ALL brand which I used on a regular basis before.
Now, I know it may seem like a lot of trouble for minimum savings, but for a family of 5 (where washing sheets and bedding can be over 6 loads and a full days work!) it is absolutely worth it and I can't imagine going back to regular detergent ever again. It's about as hard and time consuming to make as a box of macaroni, and the batch cost me about $1 to make. It filled up one entire ALL container (150 oz- the one that lays on it's side and has a spout) that says it produces 96 loads. It also filled about half of another ALL container. The measuring cup for the ALL is 1/2 cup when filled to the very top, which is the suggested measurement to use for the homemade detergent.
Based on these facts, that is 144 loads (96 from the full ALL container plus 48 from the 1/2 ALL container)
At $1 for the batch, that is not even $.01 per load.
UPDATE: Made my second batch the other day and this time used the Fels Naptha and I like it better than the zote. I will probably never go back to regular detergent again. I've made drier sheets by doing 1 parts Gain fabric softener with 1 parts water in a small tupperware container. I cut a sponge in half and soak them in the mixture. I squeeze it out a bit and throw it in like any drier sheet. It's the perfect compliment to the super light scent the Fels Naptha leaves.