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Conditioning Agent

Early fabric softener formulations were relatively simple dispersions of fatty materials, which would deposit on the fabric fibers after wash. The most common ingredient used at that time was dihydrogenated tallow dimethyl ammonium chloride (DHTDMAC) that belongs to a category of materials called as quaternary ammonium compounds, or quats. This types of ingredient was useful due to the fact that a part of the molecule has a positive charge, which attracts and binds it to negatively charged fabric fibers. This charge interaction also helps in dispersing the electrical forces, which are responsible for static cling. The other part of the molecule is fatty in nature and hence offers the slip and lubricity, which makes the fabric feel soft.

While the quats were found to very effecting in softening the fabric, they can also make them less absorbent. This is a problem for some laundry items, like diapers and towels. To overcome this problem, formulations were made that use quats in combination with other more effective ingredients. These new formulations were known as conditioning agents and have somewhat lower substantivity to fabric that makes them less potential to interfere with water absorption.

An example of a conditioning agent is Cetearyl Alcohol, PEG 40 Castor Oil, Stearalkonium Chloride -
Conditioning Agent

Conditioning Agents in Soaps
Conditioning Agents in Soaps
Conditioning Agents in Soaps
Conditioning Agents in Soaps
Soaps have surfactant properties that means their individual molecules have a hydrophilic (water-attracting) end that dissolves in water, and a lipophilic end (fat loving) that dissolves in fatty substances. The surfactant properties of soaps make them soaps effective cleaning agents. In hard water, calcium and magnesium ions are present, which react with soap molecules to produce salts of the fatty acids, which do not dissolve in water and hence lack the surfactant properties. Hence in hard water, more soap is required to achieve the same cleaning power as in soft' water. A conditioning agent like calgon (sodium metahexaphosphate) can be used in this case in the wash water to achieve effective cleaning.

For their ability to improve the cleaning performance of detergents in hard water, conditioning agents are active ingredients in variety of soaps, detergents, cosmetic products, and hair color products.

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