Whatever Happened to Powdered Laundry Soap?

(Why write about soap on December 31? Perhaps it’s a desire to wash away 2020 and come out fresh and clean in the new year. May you all have a healthy, safe 2021.)

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Not long ago, my daughter made me aware that my choice of laundry detergent was wasteful, expensive, and unecological.  She had found a company that made earth-safe cleaning products, Dropps. (https://www.dropps.com/?msclkid=1192a6aaf1ba1a589270f960d4aeb922 if you’re interested).  I gave it a quick look but didn’t sign up.  Nevertheless, she had planted the idea in my mind, so I started paying more attention.  I wondered what percentage of a bottle of Tide is water?

It occurred to me that I used to buy powdered Tide in a box.*  That product would cut out the extra water content and the plastic bottle.  So I looked for it at my local supermarket.  Only liquid laundry detergent stocked the shelves.   I ended up with pods.  These, at least, eliminated the plastic bottle, but the little plastic pods that “dissolved” were now suspect.  Most likely they just put more microplastic in our oceans. 

Why couldn’t I get powdered laundry soap at the store?  The question bothered me enough that I went hunting on the Internet.  The first site I found more than answered my question.  I had to sift through a lot of information, but here’s what I learned: half the world is still using powdered laundry soap. 

The scene is quite different at, say, the giant Idumota Market in Lagos, Nigeria. There, economical powdered detergents dominate. They come in sizes ranging from cheap single-use packets to multikilogram bags. In rural areas, powdered detergents are often sold out of large sacks by the cup to buyers who bring their own containers. Liquids are nowhere to be found. **

If I understood the explanation correctly, it seems that the grease-busting chemicals can be more easily suspended in liquid (water) than in powder.  In the U.S., Tide is still the best-selling (and one of the most expensive) products on the shelf.

These are the two ends of the global laundry detergent market. Consumers in the US, accustomed to liquids or newer unit-dose pod products, may not be aware that powders are alive and well in Africa, India, China, Latin America, and elsewhere in the developing world. Powders also persist in highly developed western European countries, where families prize them for their whitening ability.

Apparently, it was a big deal to concoct a liquid detergent with compatible ingredients that didn’t separate on the shelf.  Proctor and Gamble took up the challenge

P&G couldn’t ignore the appeal to consumers of a product that is easy to dispense, dissolves quickly, especially in cold water, and can be dabbed on to pretreat stains. No doubt the firm also considered the premium it could charge.

Aha! That sneaky little sentence got my attention. 

Lately, the shift [to liquids] is particularly pronounced in Japan and South Korea, according to Corrado Mazzanti, the firm’s sales director for surfactants and detergents. “Ten years ago powders dominated,” he says. “Now they are 10–15%.” It’s also happening in Latin American countries like Brazil, where P&G spent $120 million in 2015 to build a liquid detergent plant and subsequently stopped selling powdered versions of its popular Ariel and Ace brands in the country.

Detergent company executives like P&G’s Cumming say investments in liquids are a response to consumer wishes, yet Mazzanti contends that big companies actively promote them because they are more profitable. “The cost of each wash done with liquids versus powders is much higher,” he says.

Profit is the bottom line, here.  Big manufacturers apparently assume no responsibility for the pollutants they add to our burdened Earth.  I recommend that you read the full article if the topic interests you.  It’s an eye-opener.

Meanwhile, I’m trying out a new product, Tru-Earth Eco-strips: dry laundry detergent in index-card-sized pieces that come in a paper packet.  You can choose fragrance-free or fresh linen scent.  Biodegradable. Hypoallergenic.  Made in Canada.


(Disclaimer: I’m not receiving any compensation for mentioning this product.)

Next time you do a wash, think about your choice of detergent.

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*I have since learned that powdered Tide can be bought online.

**all citations are from https://cen.acs.org/business/consumer-products/Almost-extinct-US-powdered-laundry/97/i4

EZ Pass

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This small plastic box,

attached with Velcro

to my windshield

is now another symbol

of white privilege.

The Thruway Authority

has eliminated 58 tollbooths

(and hundreds of jobs)

replaced them with cameras.

Folks without EZ-Passes

will be billed


and pay 30% more

to drive the Thruway.


workers without

checking accounts or

credit cards

are cornered.

Already some are

receiving bills

that they can’t pay.

Who suffers?

Not me.

I have my plastic box.

Alma and Jorge

who come north

from Newburgh—

Alma to clean houses,

Jorge to paint them—

have no bank account,

no VISA card,

no papers.

All they want

is to go to work

and fly under the radar.

What I’m Reading

Since March and the advent of the corona virus, I’ve been staying out of the library.  Instead, I downloaded the Libby app that allows me to borrow books on my iPad or iPhone.  The new releases almost always have waiting lists, so I go to “available books.”  Lately I’ve been choosing historic fiction.

  1. Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant

This novel about the Borgia family was a good, fast read.  It centers around Lucrezia Borgia and chronicles her life up to her third marriage into the d’Este family.  The corruption, politics, murders, and wars of this period in Italy’s history are so extreme that it’s almost unbelievable.  Pope Alexander VI and his son, Cesare, were ruthless manipulators. Dunant is promising us a sequel.

  • 2. The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

Told through the letters a young girl writes to her deceased mother, this book recounts the flight of twelve-year-old Nisha’s family from Pakistan. It is a dangerous journey during the time of partition, when Pakistan is carved out from India after India gains independence.  Nisha, half-Muslim and half Indian, feels as torn apart as her country.

  • The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

Another tale of life in India.  Lakshmi escapes from an abusive marriage and establishes herself as a henna artist for wealthy, upper class women.  Her plans for her own independence are overturned with the appearance of a sister she never knew she had. I enjoyed learning about all the cultural paths and obstacles of India in the 1950s.


Right now I’m reading The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert – for the second or third time.  This round, I’m reading partly as a writer, looking more closely at Gilbert’s technique.  What a change from Eat, Pray, Love!  Yet the confidence, warmth, and humor of her memoir still manage to shine through a very different type of story.  Highly recommended.


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When the egg balances on its end

When the dark eats the light

When we retreat into our beds early

with hot water bottles at our feet,

it’s time for the dive into solitude,

the reflection on the year’s solutions,

the rhythm of the solstice

in the quiet cold dark.  Solemn,

we take out our needles, the raveled silk,

and stitch our souls back together.

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Tangled in Magic: the beginning of the Karakesh Chronicles

Chapter One

Agatha Flees Hawk Hill

Agatha strapped her dagger around her hips, preparing to escape from her childhood home. At fifteen, she refused to be married off against her will. Her uncle Chaucey may have considered Santer, his counselor, an acceptable husband, but she did not.

Santer was half-warlock. He had left his apprenticeship early to manage Sir Chaucey’s lands. Fifteen years younger than Chaucey, the counselor was still old in Agatha’s eyes. He was a slim cobra of a man, given to wearing hooded tunics and sliding soundlessly through the stone hallways.

Agatha had always avoided his company. His slitted gaze made her uneasy. Everything about the older man repulsed her, from his yellowed teeth to the way he flicked his tongue like a snake.

She would not stay in the manse another day. Instead she would run away to seek her twin brother, Malcolm.

Until today, Agatha believed her twin brother had drowned, along with their parents. But after a surprise visit from Aunt Viola, news of her brother set her head spinning.

Her twin brother could still be alive.

Agatha descended the spiral stairs in her soft boots. No one intercepted her. Chaucey and Santer were snoring at the oak table, their heads resting on their arms, legs flung out and loose. The strong sleeping potion she had dropped into their goblets after supper had done its work.

Sliding past them, Agatha paused for one last look at Chaucey, her guardian for the past three years. His beard, once reddish-brown, was now dull and threaded with gray. His eyes, even in rest, were wreathed in wrinkles.

“He was not unkind to me,” Agatha thought, “but he did not care for me. He only cared for his dogs and his birds.”

She didn’t spare a glance for Santer, the counselor. Good at his job of managing the estate, the man was a snake in all other respects.

Agatha left through the scullery door.

By the light of the moon, she crept out to the stable of Hawk Hill Manse, and hastily tightened the girth on the saddle of her gray mare, Manakshi–a gift from Aunt Viola for Agatha’s fifteenth birthday.

Manakshi nuzzled Agatha’s cloak looking for a treat while she fixed the saddlebags. She froze when the horse knocked into a wooden bucket. The clatter it made on the cobbles disturbed the birds in the mews.

She began to lead Manakshi past the mews to the stable door when there was a rush of beating wings.

Archer, her uncle’s prize gyrfalcon, left her perch and landed on the grille. Agatha stifled a squeak of surprise. She stared nervously at the bird who stared back with unblinking onyx eyes.

“Take me with you,” said Archer.

Agatha soon learns that Archer is a valuable companion on her quest. She also discovers that Santer is pursuing her. Meanwhile, Malcolm records his harrowing adventures in a journal. Will Agatha reach Malcolm before Santer succeeds in destroying them both?

Tangled in Magic is also available at www.handersenpublishing.com



you put on a jacket when it was cold

you took a shower before you got dressed

you made your own breakfast

you knew which shoes to wear.


you built shelves

you repaired the washing machine

and the lawn mower

you fixed the muffler on my car

with a soup can.


you commuted to your office

to help people

you had things to do.


you were someone

I didn’t have to remember.

Awakening Magic: how it begins

(Illustrations by Matthew Wall)

Part I

Chapter 1


            When Orgull, the foreman at the Red Thunder Mine, made his plans to kidnap Prince Emric, the dwarf didn’t think past the satisfaction of revenge.  The High King’s edict, banning slavery from all the dwarves’ mines and forges, had almost ruined the miners’ livelihood. 

            But Orgull also had a personal vendetta, for his face and body bore the scars of burns inflicted on him by the king’s advisor, Lord Malcolm of Hawk Hill. 

            In his hut at the Red Thunder Mine, Orgull sat at the table with the slave trader, Morg. 

            Rubbing his palms together, Orgull then spread out his fingers and studied the shiny, raised scars that covered his hands. 

            “I expect that Lord Malcolm, as a loyal subject of King Karbac, will be drawn into the search for the Prince,” Orgull said. “He’ll come to me like a moth to a flame.”

            Morg shook his head and scowled. “That Lord Malcolm is a powerful warlock,” he said.  “Ye’ll not be challenging his magic.”

            “Oh, not face to face,” Orgull grinned, showing his blackened teeth.  “I’ll shoot him down from afar, when he’s unsuspecting, like.”

            “Murder from behind?” Morg frowned.  “That’s not the dwarf way.”

            “Oh, and should I invite him to tea first?” Orgull said.  “Look at these hands, and this face,” he said.  “Was that a fair fight?”

            Morg shook his head again.  He’d already heard this speech from Orgull many times. “Where will ye put the boy?” he asked Orgull.

            “In the Labyrinth, of course,” Orgull replied. 

            Below the caves and the forges of Red Thunder Mine, the Labyrinth spread like a spider’s web of tunnels, winding and twisting deep in the earth.  It had been created, and later abandoned, by faeries centuries ago.

            “But what of the Snatcher?” Morg asked. 

            “Ain’t my concern,” said Orgull. “And what if it does eat the boy?  When we get the ransom, and our slaves back, the king himself can seek his son in the Labyrinth.”  Orgull snorted a laugh.  “Maybe the monster will eat ‘em both, father and son.”

            “The boy is well-guarded, ye know,” Morg said.  “How will ye nab him?”

            “Not me,” Orgull said.  “I’ll be getting a Grassman to do that job.”

So begins the adventures of Prince Emric, the twelve-year-old boy who wants only to compose and play music, and write poetry. His father, the king, has other ideas about the education of his heir. When kidnapped by the Grassman, Emric is swept into a task that demands great courage and sacrifice.

Find Awakening Magic online at

  Also available at http://www.handersenpublishing.com

*I think this may still be my favorite book in the Karakesh Chronicles. Read them all and tell me which you like best.



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Tonight I am exhausted from remembering. 

From being the memory.

It started at 5:00 yesterday evening. 

I made us dinner.

He was not to supposed to eat after 6:00 pm,

preparing for today’s endoscopy.

No food after 6,

no liquids after midnight.

I put tape across the refrigerator door.

I wrote NO FOOD on the tape.

I brought him into my sacred space

so I could make sure he didn’t eat.

He sat on the day bed and did crossword puzzles.

I painted with watercolors.

After a while, he got up.

Where are you going? I asked.


“To get a snack.”


I explained that food was forbidden.

He was NOT happy.

I wasn’t about to stay awake all night

to keep him from drinking water.

I just hoped it wouldn’t matter.

No breakfast made him grumpy.

More explanations about the endoscopy.

He sat in my workroom

while I wrote a blog post and sewed.

The morning dragged.

Finally we drove to Kingston.

We were early.

They were 45 minutes late.

“We have a line of colonoscopies,” she explained.

I laughed at the image.

He wanted me to come with him—

the man who insists he’s not anxious.

They said no.

Not enough space to maintain social distancing.

I sat in the car.


Listening to an audiobook

because I forgot my handwork and my iPad.

Someone came out to get me.

“He’s sitting up in the chair,” she said.

He was woozy.

“What did they do?”

I explained again.

“What’s this?”

He showed me the green tape on his arm.

This man who is so big in my sight

because he takes up so much

of my thoughts and care and energy—

this man suddenly looked small

and muddled,


by the oversized recliner chair.