Q:

What is detergent made of?

A:

Quick Answer

While they come in different brands and prices, most detergents share the same components, which can be classified into four groups: surfactants, functional materials, catalytic enzymes and fragrance. The integration of these components produces detergents, such as laundry detergents, soaps and biological reagents.

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Full Answer

The main components, surfactants, exist mainly in anionic and non-ionic form. The first are negatively charged, which enables them to attract a vast range of soil. The non-ionic surfactants, on the other hand, carry no charge, so they can attract dust, body soil and oil.

Detergents also contain pH modifiers that are used to balance the acids and bases in water. The laundry detergent ingredients include bleach and water conditioners, which work together to manage hard water, inhibit dye transfer as well as brighten the clothes. Furthermore, it usually has synthetic fragrance, which makes the clothes smell better.

Enzymes, however, are the most important ingredients in detergents. They exist in varying concentrations but are generally classified into categories such as proteases, amylases, cellulases and lipases. These enzymes are used to degrade and break down different soils into smaller molecules for easier removal. There are also catalytic enzymes in the form of mannanase and pectinase that are responsible to degrade stains.

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