Soaps have been used in various forms as cleaning agents since the beginning of time. Detergents were introduced to improve the efficiency of the cleaning process. Improved cleanliness encourages good health.
The first detergents were introduced in 1916. Before this time, mineral salts in water combined with soaps to create insoluble soap curds. The invention of synthetic detergents was the result of a search for a cleaning agent that wouldn’t cause these curds.
Soap detergents help deep clean clothing by removing soil, stains, toxic contaminants and germs. Detergents also clean and sanitize dishware.
Most soap detergents contain surfactants, or basic cleaning ingredients. Surfactants are combined with phosphates, which help improve their performance. Over the years, detergents have evolved to contain bleach, fabric softeners (in laundry detergents) and enzymes.
Detergents are available in liquid or powder forms. Liquid detergents mix with water easily whether the water is cold or hot. Powdered detergents often require hot water for optimal dissolving.
Soap residue can be left on clothes. This residue can be toxic to some people if it is breathed in or absorbed by the skin. People with chemical sensitivities, allergies and asthma should consider using detergents that are chemical free.
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