We have been making our own laundry soap for over a year. It is relatively easy to make and is wicked cheap. 1-2 cents a load cheap. It also works well. The Farmer's Daughter is a bit messy and it does just fine getting the stains out.
~6ish oz of soap - I use homemade lard soap. People also recommend: Fels Naptha, Zoat, or Ivory. Stay away from moisturizing bars.
1.5 c borax
1.5 c. washing soda
5 gallon bucket
Grate the soap. I use a salad shooter that I bought at a thrift store. Melt it in 12 cups of water on low heat. Do not boil. Add the borax and washing soda and stir until dissolved.
Pour into the big bucket and add in 8 cups of hot water. Stir. Add in 2 gallons of cold water. Stir some more.
Whisk after 24 hours. It will gel and look a bit like egg drop soup. That's okay. We use ~ 1/2 cup per load and it lasts us 2-3 months.
Washing soda is not baking soda. Arm and Hammer makes it or you can find it in with the pool supplies labeled as sodium carbonate. Another name for it is soda ash, but make sure that that is the only ingredient.
Got ants?: Mix 1 T of borax with 1/4 cup of honey or corn syrup. Leave in a place where the pets and the kids cannot get it. We used to have big black ants every summer. Not anymore.
I got the idea to try to make dish washing detergent. I read online that you can use half a cup of an equal mixture of borax and washing soda. It did not work. But, it does work if you use half the amount of regular dish washer detergent, and a third of a cup of the borax/washing soda mixture. It is an extra step when doing dishes, but it makes the dishwasher stuff last twice as long.
I make homemade laundry soap using: lard, lye,water, and orange essential oil. I use the Majestic Mountain Sage Lye Calculator for the amounts. http://www.thesage.com/calcs/lyecalc2.php. Animal fats are recommended for laundry soap, but I have not found a good source for tallow. I just made a batch that produced fourteen 6 oz bars. As you can see, I used a really fancy soap mold. Estimated cost to produce each bar is less than 25 cents. We are set for a couple of years.
You can reclaim or "clean" your own lard or tallow. Free fat! You know the can of fat that you use for excess bacon, pork, and sausage fat? Dump it out into a Pyrex bowl and pour some boiling water over it. Let it cool. Maybe even refrigerate it. What will happen is that the pure fat floats to the top and the yucky stuff drops to the bottom or stays in the water below. You can take the yellow disc of fat off as a single unit when it is cold. I repeat this one to two more times until I am confident that I have pretty much pure fat. It is a pale beige/yellow. The lard from the store is white. Dunno why. Then I freeze it until I am ready to make laundry soap. Some people store it in a jar in the fridge and use it to grease pans. It might sound gross, but don't knock it unless you have tried it.