The line up of champions!
I've used all kinds of detergent/soaps: the fragrance free, the additive free, the "natural". I've made my own with washing soda and soap. I've even used soap nuts (really interesting). But I come back to Charlie's every time. It's natural. It's scentless. It leaves no residue. It's pretty cheap. It only takes a Tablespoon. I can be lazy and not make it. And oh, it gets things sparkling clean! I love Charlie's Soap. It's 25% off here. I wash all my clothes in cold water (except my diapers) and Charlie's dissolves beautifully, unlike many powdered detergents.
Baking soda is so cheap and basic but it's magic! I can't believe all the uses it has! In my laundry, I primarily use it for stinky laundry or super dirty loads. If there has been a potty accident, if my towels are smelling less than fresh, or if we've had a campfire, I toss in a good 1/4 cup of baking soda with my detergent. It also whitens and brightens if things are looking a tad on the dingy side. I don't use it regularly because it can be slightly abrasive and I don't want to put added wear on my clothing.
Vinegar! Again, so cheap and basic but absolutely the champion in my cleaning arsenal. I use a vinegar solution for all my household cleaning. Adding a good glug (a 1/4 cup, maybe?) of vinegar to your rinse will make clothes much softer and fluffier. I'm usually far to oblivious to notice when the rinse cycle starts, so I will add it with the detergent. It still does a pretty decent job that way. Vinegar is antibacterial so I like to do a vinegar rinse cycle with my diapers before the wash cycle.
Tea tree oil is rather expensive so I don't use it regularly. I will occasionally add 2-3 drops in my diapers and towels if I have been unable to sun dry them for an extended period. Tea tree oil is an anti-fungal and adds a nice, fresh scent.
One of the best things I have found for any laundry is line drying. It gives a fresh scent, neatly presses your clothes, and it's FREE! If you use vinegar as a softener, your clothes won't be stiff. Also, the sun is the best all-natural remover for stains and bacteria.
This is my washin' system! What do you use? Any tips?