Row of industrial laundry machines in laundromat

Research that explores new ways for laundry detergents to improve their cleaning performance in lower wash temperatures was honored with the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) Distinguished Paper Award, recognizing the most outstanding research to appear in 2017 in the Journal of Surfactants and Detergents.

The award is presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Oil Chemists’ Society, during a luncheon of the group’s Surfactants and Detergents Division

Removing vegetable-oil based stains from fabric is one of the toughest challenges when doing the laundry. Removing soils at lower-wash temperatures can be even more challenging.

Researcher Chodchanok Attaphong – from King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, in Bangkok, Thailand – and colleagues showed for the first time that novel formulations of laundry detergents in combination with naturally occurring water hardness can form oil-in-water microstructural emulsions, known as microemulsions, that are capable of providing enhanced cleaning performance of oily soils at 10˚C, under realistic surfactant concentrations found in commercial washing products.

“Energy conservation is of increasing importance in daily life, particularly energy consumption in households,” said Dr. Attaphong. “Reducing energy consumption in the laundry process is receiving increased attention. It has been reported that lowering the wash temperature below 30oC (from 40oC) can achieve 50 to 65 percent energy savings.

“Through our research, we observed that the promising formulations of laundry detergents could accomplish high detergency efficiencies in natural water at cold temperature,” she added. “This encouraging outcome will lead to further research of the detergency performance enhancement for energy-saving commercial household products.”

The research paper, “Optimized microemulsion systems for detergency of vegetable oils at low surfactant concentration and bath temperature,” appeared in the July 2017 edition of the Journal of Surfactants & Detergents [Attaphong, C. and D.A. Sabatini, J. Surfact. Deterg. 20: 805. 2017,]