Cleaning agents and laundry detergents

Various liquid detergents and cleaning agentsClick to enlarge
1.3 million tonnes of cleaning agents and detergents are sold every year.
Source: Torsten Schon /

Cleaning agents and laundry detergents are used every day in private households and in the institutional and industrial sectors. Since they are omnipresent, the hazards their use poses for the environment and human health are often underestimated. As matter of fact, the use of cleaning agents and laundry detergents contributes substantially to the chemical pollution of wastewater.

Think green when you wash and clean – Unburden the environment

Each year more than 1.3 million tonnes of cleaning agents and laundry detergents are sold to private end users, broken down as follows:

  • approx. 630,000 tonnes of laundry detergent
  • approx. 220,000 tonnes of fabric softener
  • approx. 480,000 tonnes of cleaning agents and care products, of which around 260,000 tonnes are dishwashing products.

Moreover, unknown quantities of cleaning agents used in institutional and industrial applications add to this amount.
From private households alone, some 630,000* tonnes of chemicals stemming from cleaning agents and detergents enter wastewater systems annually, among them:

  1. surfactants: 198,976 tonnes
  2. phosphates: 31,860 tonnes
  3. fragrances: 8,352 tonnes
  4. enzymes: 4,18
  5. phosphonates: 3,887 tonne3 tonnes
  6. optical brighteners: 438 tonnes
  7. silicones: 379 tonnes.

Cleaning agents and laundrydetergents can also affect human health considerably. While they serve the necessary purpose of hygiene, their use can also introduce harmful substances such as allergenic fragrances and preservatives to indoor rooms. Cleaning agents and laundry detergents are therefore subject to specific legal provisions.
*Reference year: 2008; Source: Sustainability report by the Industrieverband Körperpflege und Waschmittel (IKW) 2009/2010 (

Sustainable laundering
Source: Umweltbundesamt

Sustainable laundering

Using optimal wash cycle settings and detergent dosages saves energy. This eases not only the burden on the environment, but also on household budgets since expenses for electricity can be reduced perceptibly. Often higher temperatures than necessary are used for laundering. Simply reducing the washing temperature from 40 °C to 30 °C saves over 35 per cent of power per wash cycle. Sustainable home laundering really pays off.

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 cleaning  dishwashing detergent  detergents