Capsules that clean: New-look laundry detergents head for supermarket shelves

January 25, 2012

Consumers who remember laundry detergents from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s are about to get that déjà vu feeling — and younger people quite a surprise — as detergent manufacturers once again try a major repackaging of their products. Laundry capsules that contain single doses of detergent and take up less space than conventional detergents are set to make a comeback. That's the topic of an article in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

C&EN Assistant Managing Editor Michael McCoy explains that the technology behind films used to package the single doses of detergent have come a long way in the five decades since their debut. Previous versions of the encapsulating films interacted poorly with the detergent and had short shelf-lives. And another type of single-dose formulation — essentially a tablet of compressed laundry powders — didn't dissolve fully, leaving partially consumed chunks among the clean clothes.

In recent years, single-dose liquids packaged in polyvinyl alcohol film have caught on in the U.K. and France. The German company Henkel now has plans to market a similar "mono-dose" in the U.S. in the coming weeks, and Procter & Gamble plan to launch "Tide Pods" within a month. The same dose is used regardless of the amount of that needs to be washed. Although the main technical challenges have been solved, experts say that "the jury is still out" on whether are ready for these products.

Explore further: On the horizon: a 'rinse' for washing machines that dries clothes

More information: Selling Detergents One Load At A Time -

Related Stories

New and improved right to the last drop

July 26, 2006

Biomolecules have become almost ubiquitous in laundry and personal care products. Biological washing powders usually contain enzymes to help digest stains while the latest shampoos and conditioners often use proteins to add ...

Recommended for you

New polymer creates safer fuels

October 1, 2015

Before embarking on a transcontinental journey, jet airplanes fill up with tens of thousands of gallons of fuel. In the event of a crash, such large quantities of fuel increase the severity of an explosion upon impact. Researchers ...

Researchers print inside gels to create unique shapes

September 30, 2015

(—A team of researchers at the University of Florida has taken the technique of printing objects inside of a gel a step further by using a highly shear-rate sensitive gel. In their paper published in the journal ...

How a molecular motor untangles protein

October 1, 2015

A marvelous molecular motor that untangles protein in bacteria may sound interesting, yet perhaps not so important. Until you consider the hallmarks of several neurodegenerative diseases—Huntington's disease has tangled ...

Anti-aging treatment for smart windows

October 1, 2015

Electrochromic windows, so-called 'smart windows', share a well-known problem with rechargeable batteries – their limited lifespan. Researchers at Uppsala University have now worked out an entirely new way to rejuvenate ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jan 25, 2012
Much trouble could be avoided by eschewing the use of 'fillers' such as those included in T**e, which leave residues that give me a dermatitis.
1 / 5 (2) Jan 26, 2012
They also need to be sure to include instructions on the package warning customers not to microwave and/or eat the product.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.