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Information @ a Glance

  • If you look up detergent in a dictionary it is simply defined as cleaning agent. During the last two to three decades, however, the word detergent has tended to imply synthetic detergent, or syndet for short, rather than the older soap. In fact, commercial formulations consist of a number of components, and we shall use the term surface-active agent, or it's abbreviation surfactant, to describe the special active ingredients that give detergents their unusual properties.
  • Synthetic detergents dissolve or tend to dissolve in water or other solvents. To enable them to do this, they require distinct chemical characteristics. Hydrophilic (water loving) groupings in their molecular structure, and hydrophobic (water hating) groupings, help the detergent in it’s “detergency” action.

Manufacturing Process

  • Liquid non-soap detergents are produced by mixing the ingredients together in liquid form, with a hydrotrope to ensure that they do not separate. Concentrated detergents use less chemicals and packaging per wash than conventional detergents. They also save energy in production, distribution and use, and reduce the amount of waste passing into the environment. The creation of such detergents has been a complex process, requiring the development of weight-efficient and sometimes multifunctional ingredients to replace more traditional ones. They are generally manufactured using the new energy-saving manufacturing process.
  • The manufacture of spray-dried detergent has 3 main processing steps: (1) slurry preparation, (2) spray drying, and (3) granule handling. The 3 major components of detergent are surfactants (to remove dirt and other unwanted materials), builders (to treat the water to improve surfactant performance), and additives to improve cleaning performance. Additives may include bleaches, bleach activators, antistatic agents, fabric softeners, optical brighteners, antiredeposition agents, and fillers.

Application & Technology

  • The application of the synthetic detergents generally produced a marked inhibition of the lowering of the pH in plaques, but in no case was the inhibition complete. In comparable experiments Zephiran and Phemerol gave a greater degree of inhibition than Damol and Tergitol-7. As a rule, it was found that the eflect of the synthetic detergents on the pH after 10 per cent glucose was much greater in the cases where the plaques were relatively thin than when the plaques were relatively thick.
  • Application of the synthetic detergents in a solution containing an auxiliary substance, such as an alkaline buffer, did not significantly change the inhibitory effect produced by the detergent, although some of the auxiliary agents did raise the pH levels of both the control and test pH curves.
  • The latest cleaning technologies include enzyme-containing detergent formulations and zeolite-based detergents. Of these, the enzyme detergents are proving extremely useful in keeping a check on environmental pollution. They offer a suitable option to the synthetic detergents with regard to their biodegradability, low toxicity, non-corrosiveness, environment-friendliness, enhanced cleaning properties as well as increased efficiency and stability in different formulations.


  • The term "synthetic detergent products" applies broadly to cleaning and laundering compounds containing surface-active (surfactant) compounds along with other ingredients. Heavy-duty powders and liquids for home and commercial laundry detergent comprise 60 to 65 percent of the U. S. soap and detergent market and were estimated at 2.6 megagrams (Mg) (2.86 million tons)
  • Detergent cakes accounted for 40% of the synthetic detergent used, while powder accounted for the rest. Washing powders were categorized into four segments - economy (selling at less than Rs.25 per kg), mid-priced (Rs.25 - Rs. 90 per kg), premium (Rs. 90 - Rs. 120 per kg) and compact (selling at over Rs. 120 per kg). The compact, premium and medium priced segments together accounted for 20% of the volume share and 35% of the value share. The economy segment made up the remaining lion's share of the market.

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