How Does Washing Powder Work?


Quick Answer

The ingredients in washing powder work together to dissolve the oil, dirt and grease from items that are rinsed away by water or dry-cleaning solution. The main ingredients of washing powder are the surfactant, builders, fillers, bleaching agents and enzymes such as proteases, lipases and amylases.

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Full Answer

Surfactants are a two-part molecule; one end attaches to the grease that makes the soil stay on fabric, and the other end connects to water molecules to pull the grease away from the soil. Because of the surfactant, along with the movement of the washing machine, the soil becomes suspended in water. The washing machine then further prevents the soil from reattaching to the item by rinsing it away.

Detergent enzymes then dissolve any stains to be attacked by the surfactants and rinsed away. The builders in the washing detergent are used to soften the water in the machine so the surfactants can work more effectively. Builders also make the water become alkaline, which is important to sever the oil and fat molecules in the water.

Powder detergents use sodium sulphate as a filler, and liquid detergent uses water. The bleaches in washing powder reduce the color in dirt particles. Bleaches with chlorine also disinfect and deodorize fabric. Fillers are an important ingredient of washing powder as they distribute each ingredient to its proper quantity.

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