Glossary

Liquid detergent

11.16.21

Liquid detergents may be formulated as heavy duty laundry detergents, light duty detergents, or hard surface cleaners.

Heavy duty liquid laundry detergents are manufactured with or without a builder . Liquid detergents that do not contain a builder generally contain a high percentage of surfactant.  Some of these detergents contain nonionic surfactants, and some contain a combination of anionic and nonionic surfactants.  Currently the builders in liquid products are sodium citrate and soap (fatty acid salts).  Other ingredients include fluorescent whitening agents, possibly a corrosion inhibitor, an antiredeposition agent , enzymes, fabric softener , and fragrance.  Light duty liquid products are used for laundering lightly soiled items or for hand dishwashing. They are not suitable for machine washing because of their high sudsing characteristics.  The surfactant, which is the most important ingredient, is often a mixed anionic/nonionic system.  Most of the products do not contain a builder.  Liquid hard surface cleaners use a moderate amount of surfactant, generally both anionic and nonionic.  Solvent materials such as various alcohols, pine oil , or naphtha are used to handle oily or greasy soils.  Builders are used at a moderate or low level depending on the product. Some of the products may contain a disinfectant .