Soap and Detergent Manufacture
The soap and detergent manufacturing industry includes about 700 companies with combined annual revenue of $17 billion. Major
companies in the consumer sector include divisions of Procter & Gamble (P&G); Unilever; and Dial. Major companies in the commercial
sector include divisions of Ecolab and US Chemical. The industry is
: the top 50 companies hold almost 90 percent
of the market.
Population growth, particularly households with children, drives demand in the consumer sector, while economic growth drives demand
in the commercial sector. The profitability of individual companies depends on
effective sales and marketing
Large companies have scale advantages in purchasing, manufacturing, distribution, and marketing. Small companies can compete
effectively by offering specialized products, providing superior customer service, or serving a local market. The industry is
: average annual revenue per worker is over $700,000.
The industry is about evenly split between the consumer and commercial segments. Both segments are highly competitive, with large
companies spending millions to maintain market share.
Major products include laundry detergent, soap, dishwashing detergent, and toothpaste.
accounts for 40 percent of
for 20 percent, and
for 15 percent. Laundry detergent comes in powder or liquid form,
and may contain bleach additives or color brighteners. Dishwashing detergent comes in powder, liquid, or gel form. Soap comes in
bars or liquids, and may have moisturizing, antibacterial, or deodorant benefits. Companies in the commercial sector may also sell
and provide related training.
Detergent production starts by combining liquid and dry ingredients.
produces powder detergents by spraying the liquid
mixture through nozzles under high pressure to create small droplets. The droplets fall through hot air and dry into hollow granules.
Heat-sensitive ingredients, such as bleach or fragrance, are added after spray drying.
produces higher density detergent
powders by using a liquid binder and a different mixing process known as "rolling" or "shear mixing."
mixes dry raw
materials with small quantities of liquids. Detergents are packaged in cartons, bottles, pouches, or bags.
Soap production starts by heating fatty acids or fats and oils, and combining them with alkali, such as sodium or potassium. The
process, known as
, produces a combination of soap and water (known as
) plus glycerin,
which can be resold. Neat soap is converted into dry soap pellets through vacuum drying. An
mixes pellets with
fragrances and colors. Rolling mills and refining