Commercial laundry detergent is expensive. And has a LOT of chemicals.
As one of those "crunchy-granola-people" I like the idea of an all natural laundry detergent that WORKS. There are a few options for those who are looking for natural laundry detergent.
Soap nuts are an organic alternative--you use them with hot water, smallish loads, and use a separate stain remover. On the plus side, they are extremely gentle and totally organic, and the best for the earth as no chemicals enter the waste stream from their use. They are also reusable, so they are very cost effective.
A mixture of Borax, Washing Soda, Baking Soda, and Soap is natural because it uses oils and minerals (the minerals make it not strictly organic but they are from the earth), and works well because the ingredients react with water and fabric to remove dirt and some stains. One recipe (the recipe used here) consists of 1/2 cup Borax, 1/2 cup Washing Soda, 1/4 cup Baking Soda, and 1/2 cup shredded soap. Always use soap with organic oils, no synthetic fragrances, and food grade lye. That way you know you have the purest, gentlest soap possible.
Shepherd's Harvest makes a laundry kit with all of the ingredients pre-measured (see it here: http://www.shepherds-harvest.com/collections/home/products/laundry-kit-with-stain-stick). The reason I decided to make the kit was that there were so many people who wanted to make their own, but Borax and Washing Soda come in huge boxes...they cake after a while. There is a commitment to purchasing huge amounts, and what if you don't like the result? Also, it is nice to have a little natural fragrance, but really expensive to purchase essential oils. And what about set-in stains? A stain stick would be nice... So the laundry kit has everything pre-measured, with some essential oil for fragrance, and a stain stick.
If you want to make your own, go for it! Use the recipe above, and mix the powdered ingredients together before you begin. Here is the how-to:
You will need:
Bucket that holds more than 2 gallons of liquid
Pour soup shavings into a pan.
Boil 6 cups of water and pour over the soap shavings.
Heat on low setting, stirring occasionally, until soap is melted.
Add the packet of powder and stir until all ingredients are dissolved.
Pour 4 Cups water into bucket, then Add soap mixture and stir.
Add 1 Gallon plus 6 cups hot water and allow to sit overnight. The mixture will be thick and gel-like, and may be used as it is, or you may add additional water if desired. Shake well before using, and use the same amount you normally use of non-concentrated detergent.