What is Detergent? The Real Fact About Detergents

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A Detergent is a cleansing agent belonging to any of a group of synthetics, organics, liquids, or water-solubles, which combines with impurities and dirt to make them more soluble.

What is Detergent? The Real Fact About Detergents

Types of Detergents

Based on the electrical charge of the surfactants, they can be classified into three types.

Anionic detergents: These are the type of detergents in which the lipophilic (ability to dissolve in lipids) part of the molecule is an anion. Soaps and synthetic long-chain sulfates and sulfonates are few examples of these.

Cationic detergents: These are the type of detergents in which the active part of the molecule is a positive ion (cation). Cationic detergents are usually quaternary ammonium salts and often also have bactericidal properties.

Nonionic detergents: These are detergents that are neither anionic nor cationic but produce electrically neutral colloidal particles in solution.

What Are the Best Detergents?

We have multiple Detergents Brands, which are noted as,

1. Tide Detergent

2. Persil Detergent

3. Seventh Generation Detergent

4. All Laundry Detergent

5. Gain Detergent

6. Arm and Hammer Detergent

and many more.

Tide Detergent: Tide is an economic and every household detergent which has many varieties and has become one of the most sold household detergents. It’s available in both Liquid and Powder variants. Because the basic formula in each Tide variation doesn’t change, each one is a highly effective detergent for removing body soil and everyday stains.

Tide has also introduced a lower-priced detergent, Tide Simply Clean & Fresh, as a way to compete with medium-priced brands. While it carries the Tide name, it is not the same formula as the original Tide and does not contain the needed ingredients to remove tough stains and odor.

Read More:- Top 5 Best Liquid Detergent For Washing Machine in India

How Do Detergents work?

One of the main ingredients of Detergent is a surfactant. First, let us know what a surfactant is. Surfactant is derived from three words – surface-active agents. Clothes have dirt and grease on their surfaces. Water alone cannot remove them. Surfactants are made of molecules having two ends.

One end is attracted to water while the other end is attracted to grease and dirt. Cleansing clothes doesn’t take place just by adding detergents. An external mechanical force is required to toil the clothes. When clothes are put in a washing machine along with water and soap, the machine tumbles the clothes.

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The surfactants attach to the grease and dirt particles, and the tumbling motion breaks those particles into smaller ones, making them easy to be removed. When water moves along the clothes, the surfactant molecules that are attracted to dirt and grease get attracted to water molecules through the ends that attract water. These water molecules wash away the dirt and grease this way, with the help of surfactants.

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Detergents can be classified based on their usage and Physical States

Powder Detergents

As the name indicates, these are detergents that are in powdered form. An advantage of these is, they have a longer shelf life compared to the other types. Mixability is a drawback as they don’t dissolve well into liquids and can leave fat deposits on clothes.

Liquid detergents

These have high mixability and are washing machines’ favorite type. They are suitable for cold water too. These are used to treat stains, and overuse could be a problem.

Non-toxic detergent pods

Detergent pods are small packets that are used for a single wash. These pods are usually a mixture of Detergent, softening agents, and other ingredients offering a thorough washing. Seeds are entirely soluble, including the packet in which the soap is encased, making them altogether eco-friendly.

Conventional Detergent

Conventional Laundry detergent, like any other household product, can contain toxic chemicals and carcinogens. Conventional detergents use chemicals to bring fragrance, cleaning agents to make the laundry cleaner, stabilizers to stabilize their shelf life, and bleach, brighteners, and phosphates to make the detergents more effective in hard water. Their remains are found to be there on the clothes even after washing and are likely to come into contact with skin, causing irritation.


These fats and oils are hydrocarbon chains that are attracted to the oily and greasy grime.


Sulfur trioxide, ethylene oxide, and sulfuric acid are among the molecules used to produce the hydrophilic component of surfactants. Oxidizers provide an energy source for chemical reactions. These highly reactive compounds also act as bleaches.


Sodium and potassium hydroxide are used in detergents even as they are used in soapmaking. They provide positively charged ions to promote chemical reactions.

Read More:- Best Washing Powder in India For Washing Machines

Detergents and Soaps and their Properties

Detergents and Soaps

Detergents are chemical substances that break up dirt and grime, while the soap is a type of Detergent made from fats, oils, and wood ash. Additionally, detergents are made of synthetic chemicals.

Soaps are inactivated by the presence of minerals in the water, which makes the water hard. Detergents do not get affected by the presence of metals and hard water. A detergent is a sodium salt of alkyl benzene sulphonate or a fatty alcohol sulfate, while the soap is sodium or potassium salt of higher fatty acids.

A downside of detergents is, the ones that contain hydrocarbons are not biodegradable, whereas soaps are entirely biodegradable. Solvents are environment-friendly due to their biodegradability, unlike detergents, which can form a thick layer of foam, resulting in the death of aquatic life.

Read More:- Best Fabric Conditioners In India That Keep Your Clothes Fresh


1. What is the function of Detergent?

Ans. The function of detergent is to break down the surface tension between the grease and the water and the other main function is to clear the dirt from the clothes.

2. What is Detergent Example?

Ans. These are mainly generalized based on their polar heads. Non-ionic Detergent has no charged groups in its head. Some of the Detergents are SLS, SLES, LABSCA, CTAB.

3. What does Detergent Contain?

Ans. Detergents mainly comprise surfactants (15%), bleachers (7%), enzymes (2%), foam regulators, corrosion inhibitors,  optical brighteners, dye transfer inhibitors, fragrances, and formulation aids.


For unknown reasons, specific detergents often work better for particular isolation procedures. For example, n-Dodecyl-β-D-maltoside is the detergent of choice for the isolation of cytochrome c oxidase. Hence, some “trial and error” may be required for determining optimal conditions for the isolation of a membrane protein in its biologically active form.

Sometimes it is difficult to find an optimally suited detergent for both solubilization and analysis of a given protein. In such cases, it is often possible to solubilize proteins with one detergent before replacing it with another that exhibits the least interference with analysis.

On the whole, selecting a proper detergent is very essential for our clothes.

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