Household cleaning products

DOW’s Tergitol™ and Triton™ surfactants

DOW’s Tergitol™ and Triton™ surfactants are used to increase the wetting and cleaning properties of household cleaners. Tergitol™ and Triton™ surtactants work to enhance institutional and industrial cleaning product formulations, and formulators of coatings, paints, inks for pigment wetting, film leveling, and stabilization of dye and pigment. Surfactants can give desired storage stability and mechanical properties to emulsion polymerization systems like vinyl, acrylic, styrene-butadiene, and other copolymer latex resin systems. They are commonly used in agricultural formulations, paper manufacturing, oilfield operations, and textile processing.


Tergitol™ surfactants, like Tergitol™-type NP-40 and other varieties, are nonionic and nonylphenol-ethoxylate based. They have a pH value of six (pH ~ 6.0) and are commercially available as detergent coupling agents. Tergitol™ is an emulsifier and stabilizer that appears as a highly water-soluble yellow liquid. Several varieties of DOW TergitolTM NP Nonionic Surfactants are available with slightly different properties and uses. They are useful for both isolation and subsequent purification of functional membrane proteins. Tergitol™ NP-40 is frequently used to effectively break open membranes within a cell, including the nuclear membrane. Common applications include paper and textile processing, agrochemicals, cleaners, detergents, paints, coatings, metalworking fluids, and more.

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Chemical properties of DOW's surfactants

Triton™ X-100 is a nonionic surfactant with the formula C14H22O(C2H4O)n (n=9-10) containing a hydrophilic polyethylene oxide chain. It has, on average, 9.5 units ethylene oxide. In addition, it has an aromatic hydrophobic group or hydrocarbon lipophilic. Undiluted, it appears as a viscous, clear liquid. Its viscosity is approximately 270 cPs at 25°C in toluene, xylene, water, ethylene glycol, ethyl alcohol, ethyl ether, isopropyl alcohol, trichloroethylene, and ethylene dichloride. It is insoluble in mineral spirits, naphtha, and kerosene without a coupling agent. The uses of Triton™ X-100 and other members of the Triton™ family vary. It has industrial purposes for metal plating, reduces aqueous-solution surface tension during immunostaining, and helps soft composite materials with the dispersion of carbon, among many other applications. Triton™surfactants are most common used as a laboratory detergent, where it functions to lyse cells for the extraction of protein or organelles.


Tergitol™ and Triton™ surfactants, although broadly recognized as industry-standard surfactants, have very different properties. Formulators must strongly consider their intended application before deciding which Tergitol™ or Triton™ surfactant to select for use.

The Tergitol™ and Triton™ line of nonionic detergents are considered lighter in comparison with other chemicals used for detergent lysis. Depending on the application you have in mind for your surfactant, it’s possible to interchange NP-40 and Triton™ X-100 to achieve similar results. Both DOW Tergitol™ chemicals and DOW Triton™ chemicals will work for detergency, wetting, cleaning, and emulsification, among other uses. Both are also used when there is a high need for increased surface activity and can be important ingredients in primary emulsifier mixtures.


At Brenntag, we have 190 distribution locations and a commitment to connecting our customers with leading manufacturers around the world. If you need a top DOW surfactant distributor, or for more information, contact us right away.

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