Surfactants are compounds that are a key part of any cleaning product. After all, they’re the cleaning agents! To understand what they do, you have to get down to the molecular level. One end of a surfactant molecule loves water (it’s hydrophilic) and the other end hates water (it’s hydrophobic). The hydrophobic end is attracted to and traps soils and the hydrophilic end works to pull away these trapped soils (this is the cleaning action).
There are four types of surfactants: anionic, nonionic, cationic, and amphoteric. The difference between these surfactants is the positive or negative charge in its molecules. Its these differences that make each type of surfactant better suited for different cleaning tasks.