For sure, regular hand made bar soap works. It is supposed to make some sort of lather or bubbles, which clean bacteria and grime from the skin. Basically, the high alkaline ph of the soap is what kills the bacteria. They like acid environments. Shampoo is a little tougher, but doable. The laundry soap has me stumped though.
I made a large quantity of laundry soap from a single bar of homemade coconut soap, that is soap made only from coconut oil, lye and water, plus borax and washing soda. Some recipes include baking soda too. The water on the farm is hard and full of minerals which create a terrible scum on dishes, clothes and the bathtub and shower. In the little farmhouse where I live, there is an iron remover and a water softener and as long as I remember to fill the softener with salt and sprinkle a little potassium permanganate in the iron remover, everything is great. Soft water means that the dishwasher functions as it should and the clothes come out of the washer clean. Last summer, I did not have salt in the softener and a terrible scum covered the dishes which could not easily be removed. It had to be scoured off with a pad and some strong soap and polished dry. I imagine that is when the clothes started to look dingy too. A lot of my clothes are dark coloured so it was not easy to notice, but with the whites it sure was. The clothes were not clean.
The problem was two fold. Not only was the water heavy with minerals and iron because I did not load the softener, but the laundry soap I made was not soap. In fact, there was so little soap, that the clothes could not get clean. Borax is not soap, nor is washing soda. Borax is similar to washing soda, but not as strong. It is redundant to add both, when washing soda will clean the clothes, but soap is still required. So, back to the drawing board.
I am wondering if there is any other natural additive that will help clean the clothes. Occasionally I use hydrogen peroxide in the bleach dispenser and for dishes, vinegar in the rinse container. I have even tried salt in the rinse container in a strong brine form. It may have helped, but first the water needed to be softened, so the mineral scum was removed. Currently, I am back using unscented Sunlight pods in the washer. Until I figure out the better alternative that I can make easily for laundry detergent, that is what I will use. I am going to make some liquid soap soon, and perhaps if I dissolve washing soda in some liquid soap I make it would work. It also might be too bubbly. I feel an experimentation coming on. You?