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Science of Cleaning
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The Future of Detergents: Top Trends Driving the Industry

Posted by Battelle Staff on May 5, 2016

How are appliance technologies, consumer preferences and regulatory pressures changing what’s in your detergent?

Manufacturers are continually tweaking formulations for laundry, dishwasher and other detergents to make them more sustainable, effective and suitable for today’s technology. Here are some of the top trends likely to influence further changes.

The “green” movement

Consumer preference is driving increased interest in products that are more sustainable to manufacture and safer for the environment when released in wastewater, such as surfactants derived from natural oils instead of petroleum.

Raw materials costs

Many detergent precursors are derived from petroleum, making their costs highly dependent on a volatile oil industry. The speed of movement to alternative naturally-derived or synthetic raw materials will depend heavily on the relative costs of each of these.

Appliance technologies

Detergent formulations will continue to be driven by changes in the machines consumers are using. The move to high-efficiency washing machines, which use relatively little water, has already resulted in the formulation of new high-efficiency detergents. As more consumers make the change to newer energy-saving machines they are likely to drive continued improvement in detergents designed for low-water and cold-water washing.

Regulatory trends

Regulatory agencies are putting increased scrutiny on the various chemicals that make up detergents and personal care products. One area to watch may be in preservatives. These are biocidal agents added to prevent the growth of molds and bacteria in products. Recently, there is growing concern about their environmental impact when released in wastewater.


Download Battelle’s white paper – The Changing Science of Cleaning Up – to get additional details about these potential changes, as well as other advances in materials science and detergent formulations, and how they might impact what you buy in the future.

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