(Update 27 May 2020: I have stopped making tea seed cleaning detergent this way. Instead, I reuse a sugar dispenser , fill it up with tea seed powder and sprinkle it directly on the greasy dishes like this.)
Tea seed powder is what remains after the edible oil, more commonly known as Camellia oil (苦茶油), has been extracted from the tea seeds. The defatted seeds are then crushed and milled into fine powder which contains natural saponins. This makes the powder an effective yet natural cleaner and degreaser, perfect replacement for my commercial dish washing detergent, less harsh on my hands too. You see, I love cleaning, but I don’t want my hands to look the part.
Although packaging instructions says to mix powder with water to form a paste for scrubbing dirty dishes, I kind of miss the “slippery feel” of a lathering detergent. I also feel that I am using more powder than required for my usual load since I am not sure if the dishes are cleaned properly by just rubbing the powder paste on them. Therefore, I attempt to boil the tea seed powder plus water mixture into a thickened solution that is easier to dispense and apply. Although the tea seed detergent does not lather up like the commercial ones, the greasy dishes feel squeaky clean after a quick rinse. There is no soap residue: the kind that takes forever to wash away. With the water price hike effective this month, water bill saving is a selling point for me to switch to this homemade detergent.
I have already used up two-1kg pack bought from a local organic shop, not only as detergent, but also in lots of other body care uses as shown here and here. One important thing to note is that once the bag is opened, the powder will turn rancid fast and must be used up in three months.
Since the opened bag must be kept in a cool dry place, I choose to store the balance from an opened bag in an airtight container. Prettier than a pouch clip on a slouching bag. Lest you think that I diy the label on the plastic container, it is actually a label from another brand that I first bought from Taiwan. So I have in fact used up a total of 3 kg todate. Yes, it’s that versatile and effective.
As the tea seed powder solution will turn bad overnight, I have to make a fresh batch everyday for daily use, and discard whatever I can’t finish up. I have since learned a great tip to make the detergent last longer without spoilage. Revelation came somewhere between the second and third bag, and after poring over the ingredient labels of a few commercially available tea seed powder detergents : adding sea salt as a natural preservative!
I don’t have the exact formula or scientific recipe to the proportion of ingredients, but this is the ratio I use : 100 ml water to 1 tablespoon tea seed powder to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. I came up with this as it is easy to remember and it also happens to produce a pretty thick consistency after boiling. If you find it too thick, add lesser tea seed powder for a more runny detergent. Mix everything in a pot and stir until the powder has completely dissolved. Bring mixture to boil over medium heat while stirring.
Here are the steps I use to make the detergent : first, mix everything in a pot and stir until the powder has completely dissolved. Bring mixture to boil over medium heat while stirring. I use a pot that I cook with, since I wash my pot with the very detergent that I am making, so there is no reason for me to use a separate pot to boil the mixture. The powder is inedible though, so keep it away from children.
As soon as the mixture starts to boil, the solution will slowly thicken. Turn off heat and allow detergent to cool down completely.
Tranfer detergent to a squeeze bottle or a pump dispenser, shake each time before use.
I have been filling up a 600ml (600ml water + 6 tablespoons tea seed powder + 3 teaspoons sea salt) squeeze bottle bought from Daiso with my homemade dishwashing detergent. A bottle can last me for about 4-5 days of daily dishwashing.
Another chemical household product eliminated, another eco multi-purpose cleaner in my house. More on its other usage soon, especially as a shampoo for my greasy scalp!