Brands that manufacture non-ionic detergents include Gain, Cheer, Tide and Era. Non-ionic detergents contain low-sudsing surfactant formulas usually found in laundry detergent, toilet bowl cleaners and dishwashing detergents.
Additional laundry detergent brands that produce non-ionic detergents include Ivory, Arm & Hammer, Just The Basics, Melaleuca Melapower and Wisk. Some dishwashing non-ionic detergents are Electrasol and Roebic. Examples of this type of toilet bowl cleaner include Cling, Lysol and Comet.
"Non-ionic" refers to the surfactant contained in the detergent. Surfactants, or surface agents, change water by lowering its surface tension, letting the solution wet a surface quickly to loosen and rinse away dirt. They also disperse oily stains and prevent them from redepositing. These agents' molecules have water-attracting and water-repelling tails that grab and isolate dirt or oil, while repelling to help to disinfect the surface.
Each surfactant is classed according to its respective electrical charge. Non-ionic surfactants do not ionize the cleaning solution, giving them no electrical charge, a feature that resists water hardness and cleans the widest variety of soils. Other classifications include anionic, which carries a negative charge; a cationic or positive charge; and amphoteric, which carries a positive, negative or neutral charge depending on the pH of the water.
Most laundry and hand dishwashing detergents incorporate both non-ionic and anionic surfactants, a combination that widens the dirt and oil types the solution against which is effective. Most toilet bowl cleaners exclusively use non-ionic solutions in order to resist hard water more thoroughly.