Surfactant

Role details

Surfactants are used in a range of household cleaners and body care products. They help remove dirt and stains from things like your laundry, your skin and most hard household surfaces by breaking up the stains and keeping them dispersed. Without them, dirt and stains would not dissolve in water and could not effectively be removed. 

In order for stains to be removed, the individual particles that they are made of must be dispersed in a solvent such as water and washed away. The problem is, many of the substances that cause stains - like oils -  don't readily mix with water. This is due to the surface tension (called interfacial tension) between the two different types of substances. Surfactants help to reduce this interfacial tension, allowing the different substances to be mixed together. The name “surfactant” comes from this property, as it is derived from the words “surface active agent”. 

Each surfactant molecule is composed of a hydrophilic head that is attracted to water molecules, and a hydrophobic tail that repels water while being attracted to any oil or grease present in stains. They can then pull the stains away and suspend them in a solution to prevent them from being re-deposited.

The 4 main types of surfactants are categorised according to the + or - charge of the molecule's head.

1. Anionic surfactants: The head of the molecule is negatively charged. This is the most widely used type of surfactant for laundry, dishwashing and shampoo because of their excellent cleaning properties and high sudsing potential. They may require help from builders to work properly, especially if used in hard water. 

2. Cationic surfactants: The head of the surfactant molecule is positively charged. Most commonly used as a conditioning agent in fabric softener, hair conditioner and aiding the performance of anionic surfactants in laundry detergents. 

3. Non-ionic surfactants: The head of the surfactant molecule has no charge. This makes them more resistant to water hardness than anionic and cationic surfactants and means they are used in a variety of detergents because they are great at removing stains. 

4. Amphoteric/zwitterionic surfactants: The names 'amphoteric' and 'zwitterionic' are interchangeable and means that the head can be cationic (positively charged), anionic (negatively charged) or non-ionic (not charged), depending on the pH of the solution. These are a better option for personal care products because of their mildness and dermatological profile.

Role Ingredients

Ingredient Health & Environment Used in EWG Rating
Low hazard for health. Plant derived, biodegradable and suitable for greywater and septic tanks. Nourishing manuka lip balm, Gentle cleanser, Rejuvenating body moisturiser, Extra moisturising body lotion, Extra moisturising hand cream, Lip balm, Ultra sensitive conditioner, Dandruff control conditioner, Volumising conditioner, Light moisturiser, Nourishing hand cream, Hydrating moisturiser, Normal conditioner, Baby moisturiser, Replenishing night cream, Dry, damaged & colour conditioner 1 - 1
Low hazard for health. Plant derived, biodegradable and suitable for greywater and septic tanks. toilet cleaner, Purifying cleanser, Gentle cleanser, Ultra sensitive shampoo, Volumising shampoo, Baby body wash, bathroom & shower cleaner, multi-purpose cleaner, multi-purpose concentrate, Glass cleaner, Dandruff control shampoo, Dry, damaged & colour shampoo, wool & delicates, Baby shampoo, Bubble bath, multi-purpose kitchen cleaner, Body wash, Normal shampoo 0 - 0
Low hazard to health. Plant derived, biodegradable and suitable for greywater and septic tanks. toilet cleaner, liquid scourer, Purifying cleanser, Extra Clean laundry powder, top & front loader, Propolis toothpaste, Extra Clean laundry liquid, Laundry powder, top & front loader, bathroom & shower cleaner, multi-purpose cleaner, Glass cleaner, wool & delicates, Whitening toothpaste, multi-purpose kitchen cleaner, laundry liquid, Dish liquid, Complete care toothpaste 1 - 1
Low hazard for health. Plant derived, biodegradable and suitable for greywater and septic tanks. liquid scourer, Purifying cleanser, Extra Clean laundry liquid, wool & delicates, Kids bubble bath, laundry liquid, Dish liquid 0 - 0
Low hazard for health. Plant derived, biodegradable and suitable for greywater and septic tanks. Pink grapefruit & mint soap, Goat's milk soap, Vanilla soap, Manuka honey & kelp soap, Baby soap, Lemongrass soap, Coconut soap 0 - 0
Low hazard for health. Plant derived, biodegradable and suitable for greywater and septic tanks. Pink grapefruit & mint soap, Goat's milk soap, Vanilla soap, Manuka honey & kelp soap, Baby soap, Lemongrass soap, Coconut soap 0 - 0
Rinse aid, Dishwasher powder 3 - 5
Low hazard for health. Plant derived, biodegradable and suitable for Greywater and septic tanks. Purifying cleanser, Kids foaming hand wash, Kids 3-in-1 conditioning shampoo & body wash, Foaming hand wash, Hand wash 0 - 0
Low hazard for health. Plant derived, biodegradable and suitable for greywater and septic tanks. Gentle cleanser 1 - 1
Low hazard for health. Mineral derived, does not accumulate and is suitable for greywater and septic tanks. Gentle cleanser 1 - 1
Low hazard for health. Plant derived, biodegradable and suitable for greywater and septic tanks. Rejuvenating body moisturiser, Extra moisturising body lotion, Extra moisturising hand cream, Light moisturiser, Nourishing hand cream, Hydrating moisturiser, Baby moisturiser, Replenishing night cream 0 - 0
Fractionated Coconut Oil is a low hazard for health. Plant derived, biodegradable and suitable for greywater and septic tanks. Rejuvenating body moisturiser, Extra moisturising body lotion, Extra moisturising hand cream, Nourishing hand cream, Baby moisturiser 1 - 1
Low hazard for health. Plant derived, biodegradable and suitable for greywater and septic tanks. Rejuvenating body moisturiser, Extra moisturising body lotion, Extra moisturising hand cream, Light moisturiser, Nourishing hand cream, Baby moisturiser, Replenishing night cream 0 - 0
Low hazard to health. Plant derived, biodegradable and suitable for greywater and septic tanks. Complete care mouthwash, Propolis toothpaste, Whitening toothpaste, Complete care toothpaste 1 - 1
Extra Clean laundry powder, top & front loader, Ultra sensitive shampoo, Volumising shampoo, Baby body wash, Extra Clean laundry liquid, Laundry powder, top & front loader, laundry soaker & stain remover, Dandruff control shampoo, Dry, damaged & colour shampoo, wool & delicates, Baby shampoo, laundry liquid, Hand wash, Body wash, Normal shampoo, Dish liquid 1 - 1
Low hazard for health. Mineral derived, does not accumulate and is suitable for greywater and septic tanks. Extra Clean laundry powder, top & front loader, Laundry powder, top & front loader, Dishwasher powder, laundry soaker & stain remover 0 - 0
Low hazard for health. Plant derived, biodegradable and suitable for greywater and septic tanks. Ultra sensitive shampoo, Volumising shampoo, Baby body wash, Kids foaming hand wash, Kids 3-in-1 conditioning shampoo & body wash, Dandruff control shampoo, Dry, damaged & colour shampoo, wool & delicates, Foaming hand wash, Baby shampoo, Bubble bath, fabric softener, Kids bubble bath, Hand wash, Body wash, Normal shampoo 0 - 0
Low hazard for health. Plant derived, biodegradable and suitable for greywater and septic tanks. Ultra sensitive shampoo, Volumising shampoo, Baby body wash, Kids foaming hand wash, Kids 3-in-1 conditioning shampoo & body wash, Dandruff control shampoo, Dry, damaged & colour shampoo, Foaming hand wash, Baby shampoo, Hand wash, Body wash, Normal shampoo 0 - 0
Low hazard to health. Plant derived, biodegradable and suitable for greywater and septic tanks. Ultra sensitive conditioner, Dandruff control conditioner, Normal conditioner 1 - 1
Low hazard for health. Plant derived. Baby soap 1 - 1
Low hazard for health. Plant derived, biodegradable and suitable for greywater and septic tanks. Ultra sensitive shampoo, Volumising shampoo, Baby body wash, Kids foaming hand wash, Kids 3-in-1 conditioning shampoo & body wash, Dandruff control shampoo, Dry, damaged & colour shampoo, wool & delicates, Foaming hand wash, Baby shampoo, Bubble bath, fabric softener, Kids bubble bath, Hand wash, Body wash, Normal shampoo 1 - 1
Low hazard to health. Plant derived, biodegradable and suitable for greywater and septic tanks. Extra Clean laundry liquid 1 - 1
Low hazard for health. Biodegradable and suitable for greywater and septic tanks. liquid scourer, Extra Clean laundry liquid, wool & delicates, laundry liquid 0 - 0
Dishwasher tablets 1 - 1
Low hazard to health. Dishwasher tablets 3 - 3
2 - 4
Sleepytime bath 0 - 0
Low hazard for health. Plant derived, biodegradable and suitable for greywater and septic tanks. Light moisturiser, Hydrating moisturiser 1 - 1
Low hazard for health. Plant derived, biodegradable and suitable for greywater and septic tanks. Light moisturiser, Hydrating moisturiser 1 - 1
Low hazard for health. Plant derived with a synthetic portion, biodegradable and suitable for greywater and septic tanks. Dish liquid 1 - 1
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