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Laundry detergent, or washing powder, is a type of detergent (cleaning agent) that is added for cleaning laundry, commonly mixtures of chemical compounds including alkylbenzenesulfonates, which are similar to soap but are less affected by hard water. While detergent is still sold in powdered form, liquid detergents have been taking major market shares in many countries since their introduction in the 1950s.

Laundry detergent pods have also been sold within the United States since 2012 when they were introduced by Procter & Gamble as Tide Pods. Earlier instances of laundry detergent pods include Salvo tablets sold in the 1960s and 1970s.

In general, laundry detergents contain water softeners, surfactants, bleach, enzymes, brighteners, fragrances, and many other agents. The formulation is strongly affected by the temperature of the cleaning water and varies from country to country.

The major components of laundry detergents is anionic surfactants, alkaline builders, water softening agents and anti re deposition agents. Higher end detergents contain enzymes and optical brighteners. Some liquid detergents contain non ionic surfactants.

Many kinds of molecules and ions can serve as high-efficiency surfactants. They are often classified according to the charge of the molecule or ion, the three main classes being anionic, neutral, and cationic detergents. Anionic detergents are most commonly encountered for domestic laundry detergents. Detergents are ions or molecules that contain both polar and nonpolar components. The polar component allows the detergent to dissolve in the water, whereas the nonpolar portion solubilizes greasy ("hydrophobic") materials that are the usual target of the cleaning process. An estimated 6 billion kilograms of detergents are produced annually for domestic markets.

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