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The Ingredients Of Laundry Detergent And How It’s Work


The synthetic detergent introduction to the marketplace in the 1950s offered homemakers great types of options for their cloth care. But it was the 1970s that brought the most significant kind of innovation in the laundry, the addition of the enzyme that attacks specific stains types.

Basic formulas for detergents

Moreover, every manufacturer of detergent has the secret type of ingredients and mixtures to produce their specific brands. Many of these ingredients are manufactured from the plants; others are petroleum-based. It is each ingredient amount and how they combine that affect the cleaning ability of the detergent.

The Alkalies

In laundry detergents, alkalies are a major component, that is salt soluble and base that reacts with an acid easily in order to neutralize it. However, they are effective greatly in removing stains and dirt from fabric without excessive rubbing. Of an alkali metal, soluble salts like sodium and potassium are the good kind of grease removers. They form an oily or solid particles emulsion that is held in wash water suspension in order to be rinsed away. 

The first detergent and soap makers used the ashes of plants to produce alkalis. Today they produce chemically by electricity running through the pink Himalayan salt, table, and other saltwater to produce caustic soda, sodium hydroxide (NaOH), potassium hydroxide (KOH), or caustic potash. This is almost a common ingredient in detergents and soaps.

The substances of alkaline are varying in their strength with the strongest causing burns and injuries internal if it is swallowed. Strong kinds of alkalies also damage the fabrics and leave clothes rough feeling in order to touch.

  • Mild alkali is baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
  • Moderate alkalies include household borax, ammonia, and trisodium phosphate (TSP)
  • Strong alkalies include washing soda and caustic soda.

The surfactants and anti-redeposition agents

Surfactants are one of the major components of cleaning and laundry products. However, breaking up all the stains and removing or suspending the dirt in the water to prevent the dirt re-deposition onto the surface. The dispersed surfactant dirt normally does not dissolve in water.

They work like a salad dressing with oil and vinegar. They do not mix unless vigorously shaking in the bottle and they separate almost afterward shaken. The same is true when washing clothes. Surfactants “shake up” the soil which normally in water does not dissolve, making it dispersible and able to wash water easily removed.

In anionic surfactants, the molecule head is charged negatively. This type of particular surfactant is very good in order to removing oily dirt and stains unless it goes to be used in water that is full of minerals like magnesium and calcium. The minerals keep the anionic surfactant from properly working. You’ll see surfactants of anionic listed as alkyl of sulfates, alkyl ethoxylate sulfates, and soaps in the list of ingredients.

However, if you have a water type called hard water, you will get better cleaning results with a non-ionic surfactant. These surfactant molecules have no electrical charge. You’ll find all of these listed surfactants as ethers of fatty alcohol on the label. You may find them combined with the surfactants of anionic to boost and complement cleaning action.

Surfactants types

  • alkyl sulfates (it’s anionic)
  • alkyl ethoxylate sulfates (it’s anionic)
  • ethers of fatty alcohol (it’s non-ionic)

In laundry detergent functional materials

  • pH modifiers In order to balance acids and bases 
  • optical brighteners (alternative of bleach) to improve the whiteness appearance by absorbing UV light and giving off a blue kind of tint
  • water conditioners are used in order to manage to inhibit dye transfer and hard water
  • suds control with silicone or soap to prevent excess foaming
  • preservatives are used in order to prevent microbial growth

The catalytic enzymes

The enzymes chemically or naturally also possessed. Different kinds of enzymes mainly target specific soils and the action of catalytic breaks soil into smaller molecules that easily wash away.

  • protease – degrades the soils that are protein-based.
  • amylase – degrades the soils that starch-based or carbohydrate 
  • cellulase – breaks the fiber of cotton to release soils.
  • lipase – degrades the soils that fat-based
  • mannanase – degrades the stains that food-based
  • pectinase – degrades the stains that fruit-based

Enzymes are occurring naturally; they help to raise the bread faster and increase the yields of wine. The enzyme’s introduction into laundry detergent changed dramatically how we do the laundry. However, enzymes go to allow us to use lower temperatures of water and less detergent in order to get our clothes clean. Before many years the only way to achieve the clean type of laundry was to use boiling water and harsh lye-based soaps.

Today, scientists create industrial biotechnology or the “white biotech,” in which enzyme cells or components want to generate the industrially-useful enzymes for laundry detergents. Industrial biotechnology has the potential to save the planet from up to 2.5 billion tons of CO2 emissions in a single year and support a sustainable building future, according to the World Wildlife Fund report.

Colorant or dyes

These added to the aesthetic type of customer appeal. It does not play any role in cloth cleaning purposes. 

How detergent works to clean the water

In order to get the best kind of results from any laundry detergent, there is a three-fold process of thermal energy, chemical energy, and mechanical energy that must be used when washing clothes.

Chemical energy

This is, of course, the laundry detergent. However, the laundry detergent ingredients that you choose will affect your final results. Less expensive kind of detergents having few or no quantity of enzymes. Fewer enzymes are equal to less power of cleaning.

Thermal energy

Thermal energy pertains to the water temperature. Different types of detergents develop in order to work best at different temperatures. But firstly, be sure to read the directions to select the best kind of product for your laundry.

Mechanical energy 

It’s coming from either a washer or hand washing of clothes from a person.


The detergents of laundry have come after a long time since the first soaps bars made from the fat of animals and lye were offered in the 1700s. Before manufacturing, detergent people mainly used hot water in order to make their clothes clean. In my opinion, after reading this content, you all know about detergent and its properties for sure.



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