I've taken a keen interest in homemade cleaners and especially laundry detergents or soaps. Everyone seems to have an idea about how it should be made and how diluted it should be. I've found powdered recipes and liquid recipes. I've found recipes that take three ingredients or as many as seven. Until I have a chance to try them all (which according to what their creators' claim could take me years to use them all up), I'll post recipes and links with some hope for feedback. If you've used them, let me know.
An important note... I intend on watering plants with the leftover water from laundry. If you're doing the same, skip the borax. It will kill your plants. Also, I would recommend you stick to more decorative plants or at least not root crops.
Liquid Laundry Soaps
The Duggar Family is well known for their television show 19 And Counting on TLC. Regardless of how you feel about their lifestyle, we could all take lessons in frugality from them. Their laundry soap recipe is a great example. Their recipe on the show actually stirred my interest in this DIY endeavor. Their recipe uses a whole bar of Fels-Naptha soap, 1 cup washing soda, and 1/2 cup borax. Once completely diluted, it yields 10 gallons. They also suggest 1/4 cup for an HE front loader resulting in approximately 640 loads versus 5/8 cup for a top loader for 180 loads.
The Family Homestead shows step by step photos how to made liquid soap. This is leaner recipe with 1/3 bar Fels-Naptha soap, 1/2 cup washing soda, and 1/2 borax. This recipe makes a little over two gallons and translates to around $0.01 per load.
Powder Laundry Soaps
diyNatural has a basic recipe with the common ingredients: borax, washing soda, and bar soap. Its a simple 1-1-1 ratio here. That means one cup grated soap to one cup washing soda to one cup borax. Mix well and serve. I like this page for the cost comparison. They claim their soap is $0.05 per load versus Arm & Hammer liquid or Tide with Bleach powder at $.021 per load.
I could continue posting any number of combinations of homemade laundry soap. However, Tipnut has a list of 10 recipes worth checking. My ultimate advice? Try making some small batches and play with the recipes. Eventually you'll find one you really prefer. I can't see much wrong with the 1-1-1 ratio. If you skip the borax like I will, I would suggest using slightly more laundry soap per load or making a more concentrated batch by including more soap and washing soda.
I'll have photos up soon of my own laundry detergent process as well as my homemade laundry plunger washer and wringer contraption.