Here is the update on the soapfront...
I ended up using:
Liquid Laundry Detergent
1 cup Washing Soda
1/2 cup Borax
a bit of tea tree oil (to cut the mildew smell front loaders can have!)
1/4 cup or so of Dr. Bronner's Baby Castile liquid soap
4 cups hot water (first) then added about 8 more cups
I mixed it in a bowl with a whisk because the washing soda (soda ash) gets hot when it gets wet. (Luckily I knew this from my pool or I'd have probably burned my hands trying to get the clumps out.) I did put the end of it in the blender and mixed it there to try and get all the clumps out. It will be pretty runny, not gooey like usual laundry soap. Here are more recipes.
Like I said before the Fels-Naptha soap really smelled perfumy to me so I didn't attempt to use it. I found out it is made by the Dial corp. (and I'm SOOO allergic to Dial soap.) I might use the Castile bar soap next time if it's a lot cheaper than the liquid (which I think it is.)
It filled up 3 of the 32 load HE washer bottles, and another small container I had. The cost to make it was a little more since I used the liquid, probably $3.50 total. That's about what I pay for one 32 load bottle (with coupons/sales etc.) Not bad at all!
I'm doing a test load now! Me, excited about laundry? Wow! Now if I can just rig up a clothesline I'll be set!
Some of the goodies I got at market today!
(I'm getting hungry- can you tell?)