A product containing a surfactant and other ingredients, formulated to clean and care for the many different fabrics in the family wash.
Next to the surfactant, a builder is an important ingredient in formulated laundry detergents. Builders have a number of functions, principally inactivation of water hardness, which interferes with good cleaning. Built detergent types include granules and liquids.
Some liquid detergents are unbuilt, containing surfactants that are relatively insensitive to water hardness.
Other customary ingredients of laundry detergents include antiredeposition agents, corrosion inhibitors, fluorescent whitening agents, colorants, fragrance, and processing aids.
Optional ingredients include suds control agents, bleach, borax, enzymes, bluing, fabric softener, and soil release agent.
Some laundry detergents are denser or more concentrated than others. Density or concentration influences the amount of product recommended for the wash. Detergents also vary in sudsing characteristics, ranging from high to low suds levels.
Different suds levels are provided for reasons of compatibility with machine design and to satisfy consumer preferences.
Depending on the presence of other ingredients in the laundry detergent formulation, some products offer special benefits in addition to the expected cleaning. Thus, certain laundry detergents are especially effective at lower washing temperatures; others provide additional fabric care benefits, such as softening, static control, and wrinkle reduction.