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Fabric Stain Removal Guide

Historical Synthetic Detergent Production

To give an idea of the enormous rise in synthetic detergent production, Table 1 compiled from figures submitted by the American Soap and Detergent Association and the German firm of Henkel & Cie shows both soap and detergent sales in the USA for various years to 1972.

Table 1
US Soap and Detergent Sales Soap Sales 1000 tons Synthetic sales 1000 tons
1940 1410 4.5
1950 1340 655
1960 583 1645
1972 587 4448

These figures reveal that immediately after the Second World War synthetics started making inroads into the production of soap, which now seems to have settled down to a constant whereas synthetics have increased enormously.

By 1959 although the US per capita consumption had somewhat levelled out, total production was still rising as shown in Table 2 which has been compiled from the 1963 Census of Manufacturers by the Bureau of Census of the US Department of Commerce and from the Henkel figures.

Table 2
Comparative Production Figures for Synthetic Detergents 1958

1000 tons


1000 tons


1000 tons

Domestic detergents (solid) 1200 1425 2672
Domestic detergents (liquid) 354 640 1773

The broad picture that appears from Table 2, is that while solid detergents (among which of course powders are included) are making great strides forward, the liquid detergents are increasing at a much faster rate.

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