Characterization of commercial detergents and natural cleansing agents with comparison of their potential for biodegradability

  • Authors

    • Anjali Mer K. C. College, Churchgate, Mumbai.
    • Rajesh Samant K. C. College, Churchgate, Mumbai.
    • Prabha Padmanabha
  • Biodegradation, Detergents, Methylene Blue Photometric Assay.
  • Background: Commercial detergents are chemical formulations designed to dissolve or disperse grease, grime, and dirt by making them water soluble or suspending it in water. They are best known for their wide use in laundry industry and household cleaning. After use, the wash waters along with the residual detergents are discharged into sewage system and are carried to water bodies, which result in damaging the biodiversity of aquatic environment due to the non-degradable nature of the active detergent matter present in these cleansing agents.

    Method: A critical analytical study was conducted on the quality of popular detergent powders sold in the Indian market viz. Ariel, Surf Excel, Rin and Tide with respect to their moisture content, active and total alkalinity, active detergent matter, water-insoluble matter, oxygen releasing capacity and pH. Two natural cleansing agents viz. Areetha and Shikakai were tested for the same parameters. Bacterial cultures were isolated from detergent-rich soil in Dhobighat, Mumbai and used to study detergent degradation over a period of time. Methylene Blue Photometric Assay was used to estimate the reduction in active detergent matter.

    Result and Conclusion: Areetha and Shikakai were found effective as detergents but with certain limitations. Degradation was seen in the commercial detergents over a period of time.

  • References

    1. [1] “Synthetic Detergents in Perspective - their relationship to sewage disposal and safe water suppliesâ€. Technical Adisory Council. The Soap and Detergent Association, New York (1962), p. 7.

      [2] Eduard Smulders, Wolfgang Rybinski, Eric Sung, Wilfried Rähse, Josef Steber, Frederike Wiebel, Anette Nordskog, "Laundry Detergents" in Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry 2002, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim.

      [3] Olusola Abayomi and Ojo-Omoniyi (2013): “Biodegradation of Synthetic Detergentsâ€, Biodegradation - Life of Science, Dr. Rolando Chamy (Ed.), InTech,

      [4] SiwiÅ„ski P., SzymaÅ„ski A., Åukaszewski Z. (1998): “Biodegradability of Detergent Powder Surfactants in the River Water Die-Away Testâ€, Technical University of PoznaÅ„, Institute of Chemistry, Piotrowo 3, 60-965 PoznaÅ„, Poland

      [5] Feisthauer N., Sibley P., Burke S. and Kaushik N. (2004): “A review of the toxicity of detergents and its formulation components on aquatic organismsâ€, International Journal of Ecology and Environmental Science. vol.28, p.223-297.

      [6] Singer, M. M. and R. Tjeerdema (1992): “Fate and effects of the surfactant sodium dodecyl sulphateâ€. Rev Environment Contamination Toxicology. 133:95-149

      [7] Huddleston R. L. and Allred R. C. (1963): “Microbial oxidation of sulfonated alkyl benzenes.†Developing Indian Microbiology. Vol.4, p.24-37.

      [8] Fendinger N., Versteg D., Weeg E., Dyer S., Rapaport R. (1994): “Environmental behavior and fate of anionic surfactants.†Environmental Chemistry of Lakes and Reservoirs, American Chemical Society, Washington, DC. P.527-557.

      [9] Payne W. J. (1963): “Pure culture studies of the degradation of detergent compounds.†Biotechnol. Bioeng. 5:355- 365.

      [10] Payne W. J., Williams J. P., and Mayberry W. R. (1965): “Primary alcohol sulfatase in a Pseudomonas speciesâ€. Applied Microbiology. 13:698-701.

      [11] Fannin T., Marcus M., Anderson D. and Bergmani H. (1981): “Use of a Fractional Factorial Design to Evaluate Interactions of Environmental Factors Affecting Biodegradation Ratesâ€, Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Department of

      [12] Zoology and Physiology and Department of Statistics, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming. Vol. 42, p. 936-943.

      [13] Goodnow R. and Harrison A. (1972): “Bacterial Degradation of Detergent Compoundsâ€, Applied Microbiology, American Society for Microbiology. Division of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri. Received June 1972. p. 555-560

      [14] “Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewaterâ€. American Public Health Association, Washington D. C. (1992) p. 5-36.

      [15] “Method for Determining the Biodegradability of Surfactantsâ€, Australian Standard 1792-1976. Standard Association of Australia. Incorporated by Royal Charter.

      [16] “Market Research Report On Detergent Industry In India (Market Size, Opportunities, Comparative Financial Analysis, Demand Supply Scenario, Outlook And Forecasts Upto 2017) by Npcs Team.†, NIIR Project Consultancy Services, 2014, 9789381039397/zb,,18b73,a,1,0,3e8/index.html.

      [17] Yuan C. L., Xu Z.Z., Fan M. X., Liu H. Y., Xie Y. H. and Zhu T. (2014): “Study on characteristics and harm of surfactants†Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research, 6(7):2233-2237

      [18] Lewis MA (1990): “Chronic toxicities of surfactants and detergent builders to algae: A review and risk assessment†Exotoxicol. Environ. Safety, Vol. 20(2), p.123.

  • Downloads

  • How to Cite

    Mer, A., Samant, R., & Padmanabha, P. (2017). Characterization of commercial detergents and natural cleansing agents with comparison of their potential for biodegradability. International Journal of Advanced Chemistry, 6(1), 1-7.