The intrepid Funny About Money rose to the challenge and undertook the detergent-free experiment. I didn't trust myself to do it. Since my housekeeping standards are very low, I don't expect anyone to agree with my conclusions. Funny, I'm sure, is more reliable.
So if it's true that you need--at most--a tiny bit of laundry detergent, that means that detergent is not a huge household expense. I myself buy--perhaps this should now be in the past tense--the cheapest generic stuff when it is Buy One-Get One. That brings it to about 3 cents/load. And, since, owing to my soft water, I always used half the recommended amount, that gets the per load cost down to 1.5 cents.
With this cost, even if I did one load of laundry a day, I would be spending about $5.00/year on detergent. Hence, though I was philosophically attracted to the idea of making my own detergent (which was ALL OVER the FRUGALITY internet sites last year), I didn't see much point in doing it.
The height of my laundry responsibilities came around 18 years ago, when I had TWO children in cloth diapers. During those halcyon days (I'm not kidding. I loved washing diapers), I used a few more bottles of detergent a year, along with a few containers of bleach.
But what if we all stopped using so much detergent? First of all, we would be doing the environment a big favor. Detergent is not good for our waterways.
Second, we would save money, which we could put toward ...well, whatever we wanted.
Third, we could stop clipping coupons for detergent.
Fourth, we could do our wash even if we had run out of detergent, saving time and gasoline, since we wouldn't have to run to the store.
The only bad thing I can think of would be the horrified looks of your relatives, co-workers, and friends; they might recoil in horror, assuming that you were germ-laden and probably contagious. Then again, maybe that's not a bad thing.
Has anyone else taken the no or low detergent pledge?