10 Best Type Of Detergents – The Composition & Uses (Today)

type of detergents

Whether it comes to laundry detergents or just soap, most of these things go in the same category when you reach to the supermarket – cleaning products. They are usually chemical, yet these days, you can also find organic or bio detergents that can help against dirt and grime. From many points of view, they are just as common in body cleaning products. Most commonly, they are labeled according to the type of cleaning they are useful for.

You might get a type of detergent for your wooden floors, as well as types of detergent for carpets or glass. Hand washing soaps could also be referred to as detergents. All in all, detergents are usually based on one major ingredient – the surfactant. It is also broken into three different categories – the surface, the active part and the agents. Here are the most common options on the market, as well as their general uses.

The General Types Of Detergents

Plastic Bottle Of Detergent

The general type of detergents is based on numerous cleaning agents and works wonders with hard water cold water, a washing machine, and so on. It comes in more categories.

The washing powder tends to be more effective than a liquid detergent, but liquid detergents are softer on clothes and fabrics. You can also find detergents in a cake form.

Normally, detergents could be non ionic (non anionic) or ionic (anionic). You can also find combos of these two. The powder is an anionic option based on fatty derivatives of various acids. It will work well with natural fabrics, as well as warm and soft water. Hard water may cause secondary effects when used with powders and anionic detergents. You might want to use water softeners if you have hard water.

Non-anionic detergents are usually liquid and will not create too much foam. They are great for synthetic materials and can also work with hard water.

Phosphate-free or enzyme detergents are quite popular these days because they seem to be more environmentally friendly. Enzyme detergents are excellent against stains. On the other hand, you may also be able to find pre-soak detergents, which are used during an initial stage – only to loosen up stains before the actual wash.

Last, but not least, hand washing detergents tend to lose their popularity because less and less people rely on hand laundering these days. They are safer for clothes though.

Harsh types of detergents – Bleach


Bleach is considered the mother of all series detergents. It can be quite strong and will destroy certain fabrics, so it requires special attention. There are more types of bleach out there, but two of them stand out in the crowd.

Chlorine bleach is extremely strong and will whiten most types of fabrics – including colorful fabrics, hence the attention required when you do your laundry. On the same note, chlorine bleach has properties that will weaken some fabrics. From this point of view, avoid this detergent on wool, elastic, spandex, silk or Lycra.

Oxygen bleach is not that popular, but it is just as handy as a laundry cleaner due to its efficient solutions. It is more color safe than chlorine bleach, but it could still affect brightly colored fabrics. The good news is it is also gentle on fabrics, so you are less likely to damage your favorite garments if you use this type of bleach as a laundry cleaner.


Laundry detergents – Stain removers

Stain removers

Stain removers represent a common type of laundry detergents. This laundry detergent is not necessarily used to wash clothes, but to pre wash them. Its main purpose is to target stains and soften hard and old substances before cleaning the garments. It rarely goes in the washing machine. Known as one of the top synthetic detergents, it will be used for spot cleaning.

Once the stain is softened and it looks like it can go, you can throw the garment in the washing machine and clean it. The cleaning agent will reduce the hard particles in the stain.

Such a stain removal detergent is usually based on various detergents, enzymes, mineral spirits and even alcohols. Most compounds work on the actual stain, but enzymes go a bit further because they also protect colors against fading.


Laundry detergent – Fabric softener

Fabric Softener

The fabric softener is most commonly used without affecting the washing capabilities of another detergent. Clothes tend to feel a bit stiff and scratchy once they dry, especially some fabrics. If you hate the feeling, feel free to add a fabric softener to the water. These detergents cover your clothes in a layer of wax that makes them feel soft.

A fabric softener is also likely to reduce the static buildup, while clothes will no longer tangle with each other while tumbled. Wrinkling will be reduced, while towels will be fluffier than ever. Fabric softeners tend to work with most types of detergents, so you do not have to do any research there.

Water softeners

Hard water is more popular than soft water. In fact, most people rely on hard water. Not only can it affect your appliances, but it will also affect your clothes during the laundry cycle. Furthermore, some detergents will not do such a good job when in use with hard water.

Hard water is base on minerals. The detergent will lose its efficiency and clothes will look a bit gray and faded. Water softeners are not actually detergents. Instead, they work with most types of detergents. They come as tablets – simply throw one in the washing machine and watch your laundry procedures improved.

Water softeners in industrial plant

Soaps for hand washing and other procedures

Soap is based on sodium hydroxide and fats. It used to be the primary option before detergents came out. It is not that common in laundry today, especially as it can make them go gray. Soap will also deposit on clothes, especially when used with hard water. These days, soaps are still used in under developed areas, but civilized countries mostly use it for hand washing and other similar procedures.

If you insist on using soap, you should know it is not as efficient as other detergents, especially when it comes to synthetic fibers. You should also avoid using it in a washing machine because the scum will be difficult to deal with. It is, however, alright for hand washing if you want to be environmentally friendly.

Laundry boosters

Laundry boosters are not used to clean, but normally to boost most types of detergents. They are great if you struggle with some stubborn stains, but they will also brighten colors. Some laundry boosters come with multiple beneficial properties and may also soften the water.

Optical brighteners

Optical brighteners work like bleach, but you are less likely to risk damaging garments. They will make white clothes look whiter. Some detergents with whitening properties may already have optical brighteners, but this is not a general rule. You can also rely on bluing agents in the final rinse if you want a similar effect.


Shampoos are normally created to clean hair, but they are also used to hand wash natural fibers due to their properties. Not all shampoos will work as laundry cleaners though – some of them could be harmful. Extra ingredients are not suitable, so stay away from oil conditioning and other similar features.

Instead, the ingredients to look after include palmitic acid, lauric acid, stearic acid and myristic acid.

DIY detergents

Whether you live on a budget, you have an emergency or you are environmentally friendly, you can come up with your own detergent as well. Some of the homemade remedies used in cleaning include hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, lime, washing soda and vinegar. Most of these things can be used to clean your clothes as well.

It is also worth noting that dishwashing liquid is great for spot stain cleaning, especially if the stains are oily. You should not use it in the washing machine though.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still not sure about detergents and their capabilities?

How many types of detergents are there?

It depends on how you categorize them. For example, you have powder, liquid, nontoxic, conventional or DIY detergents. You need to study each of them if you are not sure what you need for particular cleaning necessities.


What type of detergent is best?

There is no such thing as the best detergent. What works for some clothes or garments will not work for others. The same rule applies to fabrics, types of stains, colors and so on. This is why you might need to separate your garments before washing them and find the right detergent for each category.


What are detergents made of?

There are more ingredients used in detergents based on what they are supposed to do. Some basic ingredients include alkalies, surfactants, anti redepositing agents, catalytic enzymes, fragrances, colorants or dyes.


What are different types of soaps?

There are numerous types of soaps based on their purposes, uses, ingredients and appearance. For example, you could find liquid or transparent soap, but you can also find laundry or kitchen soap. You may find guest soap, medicated soap or novelty soap.


Bottom line, choosing the right type of detergents is not as difficult as it may seem. But then, it is imperative to understand that there is no jack of all trades in this industry. While a soap or a detergent will clean either way, you want it to clean at the highest possible standards and without causing any damage – hence the necessity of some research.

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