Cationic surfactants are less common in cleaners, and almost always absent from carpet products. Cationics have positively charged ends, which makes them ideal in antistatic formulas like fabric softeners and automobile “cheater waxes.” Also, cationic surfactants have antimicrobial characteristics, and they are found in hard-surface disinfectants and cleaners. However, cationic surfactants have been shown to damage the mill-applied protectants on carpet, and are therefore strictly verboten in carpet products.
Formulas containing cationic surfactants cannot be mixed with those containing oppositely charged anionic surfactants. The molecules would interact with each other, producing a gooey mess that drops out of solution. When reading the ingredients list, look for the words “chloride” or “bromide” (as in alkylbenzene ammonium chloride) to identify cationics