By: Dr. Madhu Sharan and Dr. B.N. Chaulker


Aritha and shitakes which posses cleaning property and has been used since antiquity for washing hairs and ornaments can be used as laundering agent when combined with detergent.

The constant progress in laundry detergents in the last few decades has significantly improved their profile from the environment point of view. In the assessment of a detergent ecological compatibility has become a dominant factor. Thus a great value should be attached to chemicals known to be harmless to humans following any realistic type of exposure even at the earliest stage of raw material selection.

For detergent, the processes right down the supply chain from the manufacturing phase to the application phase are potentially threatening to the environment in different ways.

Nowadays several manufacturers are using aritha and shikakai in shampoos and hair oil. But scientific aspects about the proportion and individual effects, and the cumulative effects have not been reported in spite of their environment utility. If these are to be used as substitute for the synthetic detergents, then it can be a boon to consumers as well as for ecology.

As these are used for cleaning these should work on fabric also. As the natural products are biodegradable they will prove to be eco-friendly and subsequently will not effect the environment as effluent also. Thus detergency actions of shikakai have been known since long but their scientific exploration is still to be done.

The concept here is to study the existing knowledge base for the environment in manner that enables a manufacturer in selecting substances that are less harmful to consumers and environment.

Material and Method

The experimental work consisted of three parts:

  1. preparation of samples for laundering
  2. extraction of the content from aritha and shikakai
  3. laundering of soiled samples

Five commercially available fabrics (cotton, wool, cotswool, polyester and polyester) with specifications given in table 1 were used.

All the fabrics were scoured maintaining M:L ratio 1 :30.

Cotton fabric was scoured at BODC to B5C for 45minutes using 5g/l soap and 5g/1 soda ash. The wool and cotton fabrics were scoured at 50C to 60C for 30 min using 2.5 g/I soap and 2.5 g/I soda ash. The polyester cotton and cotswool fabrics were scoured at 60oC to 800C for 30 min using 2.5 g/I soap and 2.5 g/l soda ash.

After scouring, fabrics were rinsed thoroughly in water and air dried.


For extraction of contents from aritha and shikakai 500 gms of aritha and shikakai were soaked in 1000 ml 01 water separately in water for 12 hours. It was then boiled for 30-40 min. Solution was strained using muslin cloth.

Extract was made to 1000 ml. Extract in different concentration was made as needed and used for work.

Soiled samples were washed in different cleaning agents keeping M:L ratio 1 :30 for 15min. The samples were removed, rinsed three times in plain water and dried in air. Assessment for the removal of soil was done by comparing with grey scale. Cleaning efficiency of the laundry agent is affected by the pH of the solution also.

Cleaning efficiency in different pH was studied by maintaining the pH of the solution at different level by adding chemical.

Results and Discussion

The data on percent cleaning efficiency of the different fabrics has been given in tables (2-6). The cleaning efficiency of Aritha is better for wool fabric whereas for other fabric both the solution i.e. Aritha and Shikakai can be used with equal efficiency. Shikakai works better on hydrophobic fibres.


Though Shikakai showed very less foaming power but showed better percent cleaning efficiency for polyester cotton and polyester fabrics. Detergent showed maximum efficiency for polyester.

When cleaning agents are used individually Aritha works better on wool as showed acidic pH and the positive charge assist in the cleaning process of the wool. Shikakai is better for cotton and Polyester/cotton. Shikakai is slightly alkaline which helps in cleaning of cotton fabrics. Polyester being hydrophobic needs a solution with low wetting time which can penetrate the fabric and assist in dislocating the dirt, thus detergent is better for polyester.

Combination of Aritha and detergent gives slightly lower percent cleaning efficiency, whereas Shikakai detergent combination shows improved efficiency for wool. Detergent is compatible with Shikakai for wool, cotswool and polyester-cotton fabric.

For synthetic and its blend detergent works better than natural cleaning agent when used individually.

pH is one of the factors influencing the cleaning efficiency of the solution, so its effect was studied on different fabrics. pH of each solution (Aritha, Shikakai and detergent) and its combinations were adjusted to pH= 6 (acidic) by adding acetic acid and to pH= 8 (alkaline) by adding sodium carbonate.


The data are given in tables 7-11. With Aritha on cotton fabric cleaning is higher as the pH changes from acidic to alkaline while for wool fabric it can be washed in both alkaline as well as acidic side.

On acidic side it works because of the receptivity of Aritha (cationic in nature) when COOH and NH groups are in the electric region of wool. On the alkaline side it is due to the swelling of the fibres.

Aritha gives better results for polyester and its blend in alkaline pH.

With the change in pH from acidic to alkaline the cleaning efficiency of Shikakai for cotton and cotswool fabric increases.


With alkaline pH Shikakai can be used to get good cleaning on cotton, wool, cotswool as well as polyester and its blend. For wool neutral condition is better. Detergent and Shikakai combinations are not helpful, Shikakai works better individually. When a part of Shikakai is replaced by detergent, the cleaning does not improve, it is impaired (table 10& 11).


From the above results it is seen that amongst the natural cleaning agents Aritha solution proved to be better for wool and cotswool. Wool fibre absorbs and retains more cleaning solution because of it's percent wettability and hydrophilic nature. Hydrophilicity indicates that the polar portion of the molecules is repelled which is supported by lower surface tension and thus assists in cleaning action of the solution.

Aritha being amphoteric in nature works better on cotswool fabric.

Detergent also gives better cleaning, efficiency for wool. This is attributed to the swelling in alkaline condition of the wool fabric, which makes it more effective in alkaline condition also.

Combination of Aritha with detergent works better for cotton and cotswool fabric. It is seen that hundred percent soil removal is not possible. The maximum soil was removed from polyester and wool fabric followed by polyester-cotton, cotswool and cotton fabric.

Aritha and Shikakai can be used individually for wool and polyester fabric respectively but their combination with detergent makes its use more versa tile i.e. it can be used for other fabrics also.


The compact detergent produced by combination of natural cleaning agent (Aritha and Shikakai) with the detergent will have an added advantage of being:

  1. ecofriendly
  2. reducing sewage problem and,
  3. increased cleaning efficiency (cumulative effect) as compared to synthetic detergent.


1)    Lobachevsky N. I. (1947),The World of Knowledge Encyclopedia, Heron Books (1945).

2)    Veeraghavan N. (1986), Impact of Soils and Laundry on FR - Traits of Fabrics - I, Indian Textile Journal, August (58).

3)    William D.H. and Bernard J.(1989), Collier's Encyclopedia, PF. Collier Inc. London and New York, Vol. 8 (153-155)

4)    Yadav S (1997), Textbook of Textiles and Laundry, Anmol Publications Pvt. Ltd. (129-148)

5)    William T. B (2000), Dry Cleaning, Scouring, Dyeing of Garments Furs and Rugs, Abhishek Publications, Chandigarh 12 (133,134)

6)    Shenai V.A. (2000), Technical Update. The Indian Textile Journal, March (68").

7)    Nair G.P (2004), Fabric Soiling and Soil Release Finishers II, Colourage, October (54,55)

8)    Somanta A. and Mitra S. (2004), Efficiency of Selective Surfactants/ Detergents as Washing Agents on Soiled White and Dyed Cotton Fabrics, Indian Textile Journal of Fibre and Textile Research, Vol 29, June (223~232)

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