Date
24 March 2017
Fermentation of garbage enzyme will take around 3 months and the product will have no expiry date. Also, herb sachets of lemongrass and fragrant flowers will make for good mothballs. Photo: HKEJ
Fermentation of garbage enzyme will take around 3 months and the product will have no expiry date. Also, herb sachets of lemongrass and fragrant flowers will make for good mothballs. Photo: HKEJ

DIY: Make your own natural detergent and mothballs

Organic kitchen waste such as orange peels, lemon peels, grape skins, and rotten vegetables and fruit can serve a mighty purpose rather than be dumped into the bin.

They are excellent ingredients for making garbage enzyme.

The formula is easy to remember: black sugar, organic waste and water mixed in a 1-3-10 ratio in an air-tight plastic bottle.

The process takes around three months to complete, giving rise to a homemade natural detergent that will carry no expiry date and be ready at your disposal for all time.

Cut the skin of apple, orange, pineapple, pear, watermelon, grape, lemon, or guava into smaller pieces. For yielding better effect, remove the white pith — the spongy layer between the fruit and the peel — of the citrus.

Fill the plastic bottle with the mixture of correct portions of black sugar, fruit skins, and water with only three quarters full. Stir it well and cap the bottle tightly.

Mark the date of the starting day on the bottle’s body. Keep it in a cool dry place at room temperature. Release the gases formed once a day for the first month, and only release any gases if necessary during the second and third months.

If you don’t have black sugar, use brown sugar or any raw unprocessed sugar. However, you should not try it with white sugar. Also, never use glass bottle for making garbage enzyme. As mentioned, gases will be produced during the fermentation process.

Kwok Wing-yee, head of environmental education at Sha Tin Community Green Station, explains the advantages and applications of garbage enzyme.

“It removes grease marks very well, especially those on the glass surface. However, unlike the commercial detergent, it won’t foam and you might wonder if the item is cleaned,” she says.

It might be viscous on chinaware surfaces, but you can be reassured that it is in fact ‘silkily’ clean, according to Kwok.

Garbage enzyme needs dilution before use. For washing clothes, add one portion of enzyme solution and one portion of laundry detergent into the washing machine.

For washing dishes, use one portion of enzyme solution (together with one portion of detergent optional) and ten portions of water.

Meanwhile, all you need is one or two bottle caps of solution into half a bucket of water for mopping the floor.

With a ratio of enzyme solution to water 1:100, garbage enzyme solution turns into a natural fertilizer for your garden.

Beware that though it is detergent without chemicals, people who are sensitive to fruit acids might feel slightly itchy after use.

In addition, Kwok points out that people can use DIY herb sachets to replace mothballs, in which the harmful chemicals are bad to pregnant women and infants.

Herb sachets are much safer and are also effective options as insect repellent in wardrobe. A sachet of dried lemongrass together with your favorite dried fragrant flower — be it dried lavender, chrysanthemum, or rose petals — can do wonders.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb. 16.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Kwok Wing-yee (L) and Chan Ngai-kan of Sha Tin Community Green Station assert that making natural detergent is easy. Photo: HKEJ


Writer of the Hong Kong Economic Journal

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