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The Cleaning Industry: An overview with special focus on future trends

CTAdvisors, Throner Strasse 3, D-60385 Frankfurt, Germany


Change in detergent and cleaning products over the last 80 years is driven by many factors, such as the development and availability of raw materials, surfactants and additives of cleaning formulations, the different cleaning habits in the different parts of the world, the evolution of washing and cleaning machine types, the increasingly diversified textile, surface and soil conditions and last but not least the increment of regulatory and environmental requirements. In addition, substantial differences in formulation development between domestic home care and industrial & institutional segments arose over the last 5 decades.
Soap was the basic cleaning and degreasing agent over the last 1000 years, new industrially produced cleaning raw materials such as Soda and Silicates becoming important during the late 1880’s. The birth of the first synthetic surfactants in the early 1930’ies and the development of mechanically driven washing machines initiated a boom of new synthetic cleaning formulations which overran the markets in most developed countries. Changing in working and living style resulted in changes of washing and cleaning products.
A strong evolution of cleaning ingredients can be observed in the last 5 decades, clearly reflected in the substitution of complete surfactant systems by newer, more environmentally friendly alternatives, by the changes in water-softener or builder systems, chelating and bleaching agents or the inclusion of selectively more efficient enzymes and other special additives in cleaning and detergent formulations.
Looking to the future: What are the new driving factors for change in cleaning formulations? What are the key trends defining formulation developments in the cleaning industry? The most important developments and trends for the years to come in a globalized world with strict regional and local structures are highlighted.


Targets? --> even if being a relatively complex physical process, cleaning and washing can be simply defined as the removal of impurities from surfaces by means of water containing specific additives supporting the removal.
In this overview the use of solvent systems other than water are excluded as they represent only a very special, but not representative part of the cleaning industry.

Reason for cleaning dirty and soily surfaces is basically related to the human need for returning the treated surfaces to their original shape by removal of the impurities. At the same time, through increased conciousness and awareness through the last centuries, the recognition that hygiene and well-being, and thus health, are intrinsically related to „clean“ objects.

Cleaning + Hygiene + Convenience focus on following main targets:

  • Removal of soiling, dirt and stain from surfaces
  • Returning the whiteness of white surfaces, especially important in case of white fabrics
  • Keeping the brightness of colour of dyed and printed goods, ...
  • ...

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