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I found an interesting video online about this and I've actually incorporated it into my daily living. The cost is roughly $0.05 per load of laundry, which is a pretty good savings over store bought soap and detergent, which runs $0.40 per load and up.

You'll need:
1 box of baking powder suds (laundry section at your local store)
1 box of borax
2 bars of Ivory soap

I grate the Ivory soap on a normal box grater. It is really easy to shred it. I found it was easier to grate than cheese. Once you have your Ivory bars of soap grated, add in 1 cup of the baking soda suds and 1 cup of borax. Done. Super easy. I use about 1/8th of a cup per load of wash, and I haven't noticed any difference in the softness of my clothing, or the actual stain removal being any less effective. You can boost the laundry detergent by adding in more borax if needed, and spot treating stains prior to laundering. This would also be an easy soap to use in a SHTF senario, as it is easy to use in a bucket to hand wash clothing as well. I made about a year's supply of it just last week in less than 30 minutes.
 

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http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=165646&highlight=laundry+soap

This is the thread I read that got me started making my own laundry detergent.

I used 1 Fels Naptha bar grated fine, 1 cup Borax and 1/2 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda mixed in with about 3.5 gallons of water. It works great. I also use white distilled vinegar as fabric softener. To add a little fresh scent I mix 1/2 gallon of vinegar with about 1 cup of cheap fabric softener. This provides the fresh scent and is very inexpensive.
 

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well this evening i got the wife to go along with me about making our own laundry detergent so we got everything we need and this week i will be making it and using it. the only thing was she wants to add a few drops of essential oil when i do her laundry!!! i also informed her about making our own bleach when we need it instead of buying it. now theres quite a few bucks we can put towards other uses!!! yay
 

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Instead of using fabric softener, my wife went with putting a drop or two of essential oils on a rag and throwing that in the dryer with the clothes.

We use white vinegar in the bleach dispenser, which seems to soften the clothes a little, and then the scent comes from the essential oils from the rag.

Lavender for pillowcases and sheets, cool water for my work clothes, etc. We like to keep the babies' diapers unscented so we can smell when they need to be changed, but scent their clothes a little.

I guess it depends on how much time you have on your hands.
 

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Instead of using fabric softener, my wife went with putting a drop or two of essential oils on a rag and throwing that in the dryer with the clothes.

We use white vinegar in the bleach dispenser, which seems to soften the clothes a little, and then the scent comes from the essential oils from the rag.
A pair of very useful tips. You might try ammonia with your work clothes. It does a very good job of removing any oil or grease, and it will work the same way your white vinegar does for application....

As to laundry soap, I use the same basic lye soap I use to wash my mangy hide....
 
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