I'm updating some of my very old posts as a lot of my recipes are in the middle of discussions about other topics, so here's my washing powder recipe again.
4 cups grated pure soap (e.g. Sunlight soap) or Lux Flakes
2 cups Borax*
2 cups washing soda**
Mix all ingredients together well, and store in a plastic container with a lid. Use 2 tablespoons per wash.
It won't lather, but you don't need it to (commercial detergents have additives to make it lather, as we all think we need bubbles to get things clean!), and it is therefore suitable for front loaders.
* Borax is a naturally occurring mineral (sodium borate) but too much on your garden is toxic to plants and worms, so if you are going to use your grey water on your garden, leave out the Borax.
** Washing soda is the mineral sodium carbonate and in Australia is commonly known by the brand name "Lectric". Lectric soda comes in crystal or powdered form - the powder is much easier to use as it dissolves in the wash water more quickly.
My kids are filthy little critters, so I like to use the heavy duty powder for extra stain removal:
Heavy Duty Laundry Powder
2 cups grated stain remover soap (e.g. Napisan or Sards Soap; Sards has a nice eucalyptus scent)
2 cups grated pure soap or Lux flakes
2 cups Borax
2 cups washing soda
Mix all ingredients together well and store in an airtight container. As above, use two tablespoons per wash, and it is suitable for front loaders.
I also occasionally use white vinegar in the "fabric softener" compartment of my machine; it helps prevent a build up of pure soap in your machine (which can happen if you have hard water and/or use cold water washing only) as well as softening your clothes much more cheaply than commercial petro-chemical filled softeners. Some people like to also add a few drops of essential oil to the vinegar to scent their washing.