Clean clothes, less water

Rinsing clothes is the most water- and time-consuming part of hand washing. How are we helping?

Helping hand wash

Woman does washing using Persil Small and Mighty

In India, our laundry detergent Surf Excel is used mostly for hand washing. When washing clothes by hand, it’s rinsing that often takes most time and uses most water – water that is extremely scarce, especially if you live in the dry, southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

Understanding the problem

We were asked if we could improve Surf Excel so less rinsing is needed, while still getting clothes as clean as before. This is the challenge our innovation team took up.

First we had to understand the hand wash process really well. Typically people keep rinsing till all the lather has gone. That often takes four rinses, which means four buckets of water.

We knew we could cut the number of rinses by adding one of a number of anti-foam ingredients commonly used in machine-washing detergents. That would make the lather rinse more quickly. But we also know that people like the foam when they’re washing because it’s a sign that things are getting clean.

Reduced rinsing

So we had to find just the right ingredient that doesn’t suppress lather significantly during the main wash, yet aids significant foam reduction during the rinsing step. We tested several until we found one that doesn’t kick in until the concentration of surfactant active is lower – in other words when washing is complete and rinsing begins - then rebalanced the formulation until we got it just right.

This is how new Surf Excel Quick Wash can deliver a good lather at the washing stage, and reduce the need for the rinsing – saving two bucketfuls of water per wash.

We have supported the launch of Surf Excel Quick Wash with an advertising campaign that promotes the message that you can have cleaner clothes with less lather with the aim of helping to reduce the water used in washing even more in the future.

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