Just the Right Amount of Foam

No matter where you are in the world, nothing says clean and hygienic like a thick, white foam. Detergents that foam too much, however, require an unnecessarily large amount of water to rinse them out. WACKER has now developed SILFOAM® SD 9019, a foam-control agent especially for hand washing that strikes the perfect balance between fluffy white bubbles and responsible use of resources.

Washing clothes by hand involves several rinse cycles to get rid of the foam – a time-consuming and exhausting process.

The washing machine has become an essential household appliance in industrialized countries; according to Germany’s Federal Statistical Office, over 96% of German homes have one. It is much less common in emerging economies, however, and for reasons that are fairly obvious: in some cases, the technical infrastructure is not available, and in others, it’s simply a question of money. That’s why roughly half of the world’s population still performs the laborious process of washing clothes by hand. Maids and housewives soak the clothes, scrub them by hand, rinse out the suds and then wring out the laundry – a step that requires a great deal of strength.

Foam without Function

Foam Average

The SILFOAM® brand unites a broad portfolio of highly effective antifoams. SILFOAM® products control foam formation and ensure a smooth and therefore efficient production process. In modern detergents, they control foam formation to prevent washing machines from foaming over. In the textile industry, SILFOAM® foam-control systems must withstand temperatures of up to 130 °C, as well as acidic and alkaline environments.

And washing by hand does not exactly conserve resources: the method consumes roughly two to three times as much water as machine washing. This issue is particularly acute in those parts of the world where water is already a scarce resource. The amount of clean water used for rinsing out the suds at the end of the process is especially large. This is arduous and time-consuming work.

“The foam itself doesn’t make laundry any cleaner – it’s a by-product that consumers want. After all, we automatically associate soap suds with cleanliness,” notes Dr. Klaus Pohmer, director of business development for WACKER’s Performance Silicones business unit. Studies have shown that soap with good foam-forming properties is automatically perceived as more effective by consumers, even though the suds are nothing more than the air bubbles that form when a detergent containing a surfactant is mixed with water. Surfactants form a thin film on the surface of the water, which reduces the surface tension of the water.