Category Archives: detergent

Hungry Ghost Soap Powder

One could be forgiven for thinking that this was the stuff those chaps from “the other world” used to wash up after having their once-a-year Happy Meals during Chinese 7th Month.

In the late 1960s,  a new washing powder came onto the market.

The English name was “DRIVE”, but the Chinese name was literally “Hungry Ghost Laundry Powder” – 饿鬼洗衣粉 (“Serbuk Cuci Hantu Lapar” when translated into Malay).

What a name !

The powder came in a yellow paper box, with the word “DRIVE” boldly emblazoned on it, plus a prominent exclamation of the “Bio-Zolve” agent it contained.

There were also those iconic Blue Dots which supposedly were champion eaters of stains.

My family tried out this detergent for a while, before reverting to our trusty old FAB. I cannot remember why – perhaps it was too aggressive for our hands.

Threw In My Vests, They Did The Rest

Well, almost … some time-honoured hand scrubbing was needed. OMO, FAB and BREEZE were the detergents of choice in the 50s-60s.

OMO was my earliest encounter. Not sure what OMO stood for; I thought it should have been OWO (one-woman operation) since my mum single-handedly did all the washing.

Not long after that came FAB – which could fabulously evict scums of any nature. Oh yes, later there was a solid-state variant called “Power Laundry Bar”, which came in the form of a blue  rectangular slab.

Finally came BREEZE which I suppose could make laundry work a breeze.

These old timers have long been overshadowed by so many other new brands, with offerings in both powder and liquid emulsified versions, including one that promises to make unsightly things (including your money, of course) VANISH.