Introduction to Detergents in the EU Market

Detergents are defined by Regulation No 648/2004/EC  as any substance or mixture, containing soaps and/or other surfactants intended for washing and cleaning processes. Detergents may be in any form (liquid, powder, paste, bar, cake, molded piece, shape, etc.) and marketed for or used in household, or institutional or industrial purposes.

Aim of the Regulation is to provide a high level of protection for the environment and human health while establishing common rules for these products to be sold on the EU Market.

Detergents Legislation

Regulation 648/2004/EC entered into force on the 8 October 2005. While previous legislation on the matter was focusing mostly on primary biodegradability of detergents, the Regulation gives particular emphasis to the ultimate biodegradability of detergents.

Ultimate aerobic biodegradation is defined as “the level of biodegradation achieved when the surfactant is totally used by micro-organisms in the presence of oxygen resulting in its breakdown to carbon dioxide, water and mineral salts of any other elements present (mineralisation) [..]”.

Key Elements:

  • The manufacturer or importer located in the EU is responsible for the compliance with the Detergents Regulation,
  • There is no reference to non-EU manufacturers– the importer will always bear responsibility for the compliance of the detergents and will be considered like a Manufacture,
  • Test results records and datasheet information regarding the ingredients composing the detergents must be kept available and provided whenever requested and without delay to Competent Authority and/or medical staff. Labels on detergents must specify the recommended dosage for washes in a standard washing machine,
  • Whenever a Member State determines that a specific detergent poses a risk to humans, animals or environment, they may ban the detergent and inform the Commission and the other countries accordingly,
  • Further horizontal legislation applicable to detergents includes Regulation 1272/2008/EC (CLP), Regulation 528/2012 on biocidal products and Regulation 1907/2006/EC (REACH).

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