Dropps Cleaning Science: Your Crash Course!


We sat down with our team in the lab here at Dropps to learn more about how our products are made, how and why we choose our ingredients, and decode these buzzwords. Think of this as your cleaning science crash course (but don’t worry, there’s no quiz at the end)!

You know Dropps is good for the planet and good for your laundry, but do you know why? Enzymes, surfactants, plant and mineral-based—sometimes decoding ingredient lists can make you feel like you missed a science lesson. Not to worry! We sat down with our team in the lab here at Dropps to learn more about how our products are made, how and why we choose our ingredients, and decode these buzzwords. Think of this as your cleaning science crash course (but don’t worry, there’s no quiz at the end)!

What are Enzymes in Laundry Detergents?

Enzymes are proteins that act as a biological catalyst, meaning they provoke a reaction. These molecules target the removal of another molecule, like protein or starch. Our Stain & Odor Pods contain 5 different enzymes that each target a different kind of stain-causer.

Each enzyme has specifically been chosen to fight a common stain source without harming your clothes. Take Protease, for example. This enzyme attaches to a protein stain (think milk, or sweat) and breaks the proteins down into smaller amino acids that can easily be removed and washed away from the fiber. Using enzymes allows us to use less harsh surfactants, so our products are tough on stains and odors while being gentle on clothes and skin. 

Workout clothes can get especially stinky, so our Active Wash contains an extra blend of Alpha-Amylase and Protease to supercharge cleaning. That blend is 100% active ingredients, so it’s more potent, fighting even the most stubborn stains.

Wait, What's a Surfactant?

A surfactant is the “soap” portion of the detergent! These molecules have a polar head and a non-polar tail. This means that the head of the molecule is attracted to water, while the long tail is attracted to non-polar soils, which are the types of dirt in fiber. How does the surfactant help clean? The tail of the surfactant drags soils out of your clothing and into the water, where it is washed away! 

Surfactants are the cleansing part of any formula, so they are in all of our detergents. Surfactants can be derived from many different sources, but Dropps uses plant-based surfactants! We opt for plant-based surfactants as part of our commitment to making products that are good for the earth and your laundry (plus, they work)!

What Does it Mean to be Plant-Based?

Claiming a product is plant-based all comes down to the molecule. Our lab looks at each molecule of our product and calculates what percentage is plant-based (or bio-based, if you want to get scientific). If a molecule is 30% plant-based or more, you are good to go! Dropps strives for as high a bio-based percentage as possible. The molecules in our laundry detergent are currently 60% bio-based — twice as high as what is required, and we are always working to make it higher in future formulations!

What is our major plant-derived ingredient? Glycerin, of course! Our glycerin is completely plant-based, upcycled, and made from waste plant oils. This blend of sunflower, round table balanced palm, corn, coconut, and canola oils helps ensure that we live up to our sustainability mission. Why create new oils when we can create a high-quality product while reducing waste?

What Does it Mean to be Mineral-Based?

A mineral-based formula is composed of primarily mineral-based ingredients. Think sodium chloride (salt) or bentonite—rather than being derived from plants or synthetic sources, the ingredient is literally mined out of the ground. Our Oxi Booster and Dishwasher Detergent pods contain both mineral and plant-based ingredients. Our Fabric Softener Pods are 100% mineral, with the exception of added fragrance!

How Do You Choose Your Ingredients?

When choosing ingredients, the first thing we look at is sustainability. Sustainability is our biggest community value as a company, so it’s the first thing we consider! We look at several factors involving sustainability including the circularity and material health of each individual ingredient and the overall formula, as well as water stewardship and social fairness. Next, we check functionality. How does this ingredient work? Will it make a good product? Once we’re sure the ingredient is good for the planet and your laundry, we move on to more logistical questions. We check out the supply chain—how and where can we obtain the ingredient? Will we be able to obtain it consistently, so we can regularly have the product in stock? At this point, we check performance again; no use using an ingredient if it doesn’t perform to our (very high) standards! The final consideration is the cost of the ingredient. Each ingredient in our products has undergone this rigorous consideration process, so you can feel confident in our ingredients lists!

Where Does Fragrance Come From? Are Essential Oils More Sustainable?

Our fragrances are made of a blend of essential oils and synthetic ingredients. When developing a scent, we first come up with a concept. Then explore the individual ingredients that can bring that scent to life, making sure to avoid aquatic toxins to keep our fragrances as natural and sustainable as possible. Why not use pure essential oils? This may be surprising, but in many cases, essential oils are not the most sustainable option! Consider our Rose Energy Active Wash. Our Active Wash line is designed to meet cradle-to-cradle standards, which means it contains specific essential oils that have been deemed sustainable. It takes a large amount of roses to make pure rose essential oil—up to 105 lbs of flowers to produce a 5ml bottle! The amount of raw material required and the amount of resources required to grow and harvest these materials makes this essential oil an unsustainable and environmentally harmful choice, even if it seems more “natural”. Synthetic ingredients can provide the same olfactory character while being a more eco-friendly choice. They also have the benefit of providing a more consistent olfactory experience. The scent of an orange crop may differ from year to year due to environmental factors, but the synthetic is guaranteed to smell the same as the last batch.


Have additional questions about our ingredients or how our products are made? We are here to answer them! Shoot us an email at