How to Start a Detergent & Washing Powder Business in India

Clean and good-smelling clothes are a priority for everyone. Clean, stain-free clothes ensure that the wearer looks dapper and smart throughout the day. Synthetic detergents have only been on the market for around 70 years, while animal fat-based detergents have been around since the 18th century. Fresh advancements have continued to make our lives easier since then. The concept of "stubborn stains" began to fade with the inclusion of enzymes, but oil smudges and hard water still caused a lot of headaches. Then there was the liquid laundry detergent.

Laundry detergent forms

Laundry detergent is available in two different forms: powder and liquid. While powdered detergents continue to dominate the market, liquid detergents provide several benefits worth considering. The word "liquid detergent" is broad and applies to a variety of liquid cleaning agents. It also includes different products like hand soap liquid, dishwashing liquid, a variety of various household cleaners, and more, in addition to liquid laundry detergent as well. The same factory can create a variety of liquid detergents and related formulae (for example, fabric softeners). Any type of washing can be done with liquid detergent. When used to clear oily stains and/or in locations with hard water, it performs best. It all comes down to the formula: liquid detergents have a greater ability to release and break down fat, and their chemicals are more resistant to minerals present in hard water. Furthermore, liquid detergents are better for washing coloured materials than powder detergents because many formulae keep the colour better.

Now, as we know India has a population of over 1.3 billion and there is always a necessity for clean clothes. Every person wants a clean set of clothes and buying new clothes now and then is not something rational or affordable. Given this understanding, it is easy to understand that liquid detergent and washing powders hold the scope of good business and income opportunities for entrepreneurs in India.

Read More About: India’s Best Bleaching Powder Manufacturers & Suppliers

Starting a detergent and washing powder business in India

To start a detergent and washing powder business in India, one must remember that Indian companies operate under volume and less on profit margin. This means that the business mantra followed by most companies is to offer quality products at a low cost and focus on more sales volume to ensure higher profit.

Make extensive research

Before anyone gets into this business, they need to study about successful and failed companies that entered this market segment. It is more important to identify the failure in business strategies of existing companies than only to study the successful business strategies. Studying the failure models will ensure that entrepreneurs will stay clear of that approach to eliminate the chances of failure.

Register your company

The next important step is to register the company with the requisite authorities and government. It is extremely essential to get the necessary licenses for operating the business. Over the years, the government has brought about policies to ensure that the companies meet the strict environmental norms. Washing Powder and detergent companies have been known to use chemicals for their manufacture and release toxic effluent into nature. Thus, you must be aware of policies and keep a strict eye out for the environmental impact of your manufacturing business.

Identify a good space

Having addressed these two issues, the next important step is to identify a good workspace to set up your company. Remember one success mantra, the key to a successful business is in the selection of the right location. Selling packaged drinking water next to a clean river is a business that is bound to fail. To set up a detergent company, it's always prudent to select a location close to cities so that you have a customer base. Remember all you need to do is to identify how your product can penetrate the market, and compete with the existing brands. In India, people are very brand conscious and it is a difficult task to change this mindset. Till today, most people visit the store looking for “Surf” and not detergent powder. Thus, a brand like Surf has become synonymous with detergents.

Invest in quality machinery

You also need to invest in quality machinery for the production and packaging of your product. Buying second-hand equipment from an out-of-business company might be a cheaper alternative, but you can never be sure about its maintenance. Thus, it is prudent to buy new machines. Many government schemes offer Cheap loans to budding entrepreneurs and one should have a strong business plan ready when approaching a bank for a loan. Once your plan is approved, the bank will offer you a loan at a much-reduced rate.

Hire skill workers

Hiring skilled workers is another important aspect. Ensure that you have the right mix of skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled labour. The unskilled labour will use this opportunity to learn new skills while the skilled labour will ensure compliance with regulations and standards. The Indian labour law has strict rules regarding salaries and benefits for employees and companies must adhere to them.

Choose the pricing

The product manufactured by you should have a catchy name and packaging. It should look appealing. You might spend a lot of money in ensuring the detergent is world-class, but its marketing and pricing are two key parameters that find resonance amongst the Indian consumers. You should price your detergent to ensure it can compete with other brands which dominate the market. Getting the population to move away from popular FMCG brands like Rin, Ariel, Tide or Surf is a difficult but not an impossible task.

Develop a strong marketing team

You must develop a strong marketing team that is a mixture of youth and experience. Get them out on the road, do roadshows, meet prospective customers, offer free samples, advertise on digital media, develop an online interactive platform and above all, keep your ears open to hear what customers say. There are many success stories of how the single-minded effort and dedication of entrepreneurs have built brands. The case studies of Nirma and Wipro come to mind when one thinks about successful detergents. Nirma, a company based out of Ahmedabad in Gujarat, is a classic story of how quality education and visionary business tactics drove the sales of this brand. The product was good, it suited the budget of the Indian middle class while delivering a superb washing experience. However, what made it a household name was none other than its brand promotion. Who can ever forget the timeless advertisement of Nirma washing powder that used to air on Doordarshan? Similarly, Surf became iconic with its “Daag Acche Hain” adage. Tide has been another successful detergent brand. However one must notice that all these brands have constantly reinvented themselves with time. With the changing times, the demand for detergent and its impact on nature has also become important. Patanjali has been one brand that has tried to sell its product and hitched to the Swadesi bandwagon. All their products have been a huge commercial success and the company has grown in its stature.

Being an entrepreneur,  you can always try to create a niche market or target a niche customer segment as well. With the Ill effects of chemicals on nature becoming a major cause of concern, you can always develop herbal products that aim to alleviate the risks of chemical-based detergents and fabric conditioners. A growing number of users are looking out for products which are environmentally benign and offer a wonderful cleaning experience.

If one can ensure they follow the above steps, then any business can be successful. It requires a vision and dedication to not only set up a detergent and washing powder manufacturing facility but also to make it a successful brand.


Liquid detergents have revolutionized the laundry business, and have come as a boon for modern society. Given the vast population in India, many liquid detergent companies cater to this population by offering quality products at cheap rates. Washing powder and detergent manufacturing can be a lucrative business if the management is committed and focused on its vision. With strong marketing and competitive pricing, the products can reach the masses and drive the profit upward for the company.

FAQ's: Liquid Detergent

Q. What is the difference between powder and liquid detergent?

Ans. Liquid detergents are generally enzyme-based solutions that offer faster dissolution in water and are less harsh on the clothes.

Q. Which is the best-selling liquid detergent in India?

Ans. Surf, Genteel, Ariel, and Safewash are highest selling liquid detergents in India.

Q. How to Start a Detergent & Washing Powder Business in India?

Ans. There are many excellent startup companies in this field. You can study their business story, along with stories of FMCG giants like Hindustan Unilever, and Wipro to gain helpful insights. You should read this article carefully and follow the steps mentioned to achieve this.

Explore More: