I've been making my own laundry detergent for 2 1/2 years. I have a HE top load washer. I do not use the dry kind. I make liquid detergent b/c I think it rinses better. I use a large pot, filled 3/4 with water, heat to boiling. Grate 1/3 bar of Zote laundry soap (.70 @ WalMart and 1 bar makes 3 batches) and let dissolve in water, then add 1/2 c. each of borax and washing soda. Then I fill my old laundry detergent bottles halfway with the soap then fill them up with water. When you let this sit overnight, the next day it will be gel.
If you find this too harsh on clothes, cut the washing soda. It is the most caustic ingredient in the mix. Also, if you have soft water you can cut some of the borax. Borax is a salt mineral and helps rinse the soap off clothes when you have hard water.
I spend $12 a year on laundry detergent. One batch lasts me 2-3 months and I do a LOT of laundry.
Also, about using white vinegar as a fabric softener: your clothes will not smell like vinegar. It will also clean your machine. But if you miss the scent, just cut your fabric softener with white vinegar. Use 1 Tbsp liquid fab. softener and 1 Tbsp vinegar. Your clothes will still be soft and the vinegar helps rinse the fab. softener out of your clothes.
Sorry this is so long. I did LOTS of research on this before I started doing it.
*I also make my own dishwasher detergent.*