Probably the most commonly used surfactants in carpet cleaning chemistry are anionic surfactants. Anionic surfactants possess a negative charge on their hydrophilic end. This charge helps the surfactant molecules to interact with both the carpet fibers and soil particles, lifting and suspending soils in “bubble-like” arrangements called micelles. Anionic surfactants possess other benefits that make them ideal for certain carpet applications.
Generally, they make a lot of foam when agitated. Also, they tend to be flaky or powdery when dry, not sticky like other surfactants. Anionic surfactants, therefore, are the most common type of surfactant found in low moisture carpet cleaners, like traditional shampoos and encapsulation products. However, these detergents tend to not be as good at emulsifying oily soils as some other detergent types.