I mentioned in an earlier post using homemade laundry detergent. Again, why waste money on something that is mostly water and dye and perfume? The only "perk" I have found to using the store-bought laundry detergent is that it does leave your clothes smelling "fresh"... but what we think of as "fresh" and "clean" is really the perfume left on our clothes from the purchased detergent and not what our clothes really smell like in their clean state.
I am still in the "experimenting" phase of making laundry detergent, but here is what I currently use. You will need...
a storage container... an empty milk carton or juice bottle will do just fine
a medium size pot
small measuring cup or a large spoon
borax - found in the laundry aisle of most stores
castile soap - found in the natural foods section or at your local natural foods store
baking soda or washing soda if you can find it (I haven't stumbled across any yet, but I am looking!)
vinegar - optional
essential oils - optional for fragrance
I add a few cups water to my pot and put it on the stove to boil. I don't know the exact amount of borax or baking soda, but I'm guessing I added at least 1/3-1/2 cup of each to the water. I also added about 1 T of castile soap (I use the unscented kind). Once the water has boiled for a few minutes and most of the borax/baking soda mix has dissolved, remove from heat. If you like, add say... a cup or so of white vinegar to the storage container of choice. Use either a funnel or a spouted measuring cup to transfer the somewhat cooled liquid mix to the storage container. Fill to the top with water. If desired, add 10-20 drops essential oils - I use 10 drops or so of lavender and 10 or so drops of eucalyptus. The only perk to doing this is that it smells good when you're starting the wash cycle, but there won't be any scent left by the time your load is done.
I usually pour .5-1 cup of the laundry detergent into my washes. As I'm still experimenting, I haven't really gotten this down to an art, but hope to soon! Next batch, I'm going to try adding grated zote or ivory soap to the mix to see if it makes a difference. But, so far, my clothes seem to be coming out clean. Also, add some plain white vinegar do your fabric softener dispenser and your clothes will be nice and soft when you take it out. No, they don't smell when its all done. :)