Purpose and scope of the regulation

This page provides information on the purpose and scope of the regulation:

The objectives of the Detergents Regulation are to achieve the free movement of detergents throughout Great Britain, and the free movement of those products classified as qualifying Northern Ireland goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, while, at the same time, ensuring a high degree of protection for human health and the environment.

The Detergents Regulation establishes technical standards and requirements in relation to detergents and surfactants for detergents. The Detergents Regulation:

  • establishes rules on the biodegradability of surfactants in detergents
  • imposes restrictions or bans on surfactants on grounds of biodegradability
  • makes provision for the additional labelling of detergents including fragrance allergens
  • sets out the information that manufacturers must hold at the disposal of the competent authority and medical personnel

The Detergents Regulation covers the manufacturing, placing and making available on the Great Britain market and use of detergents. Any natural or legal person established in Great Britain or Northern Ireland responsible for placing a detergent or a surfactant for a detergent on the Great Britain market must comply with the requirements in the regulations.

What are detergents?

Detergents are substances or mixtures containing soaps and/or surfactants (any organic substance/mixture) intended for washing and cleaning processes.

Detergents also include cleaning and washing mixtures, for example, domestic all purpose cleaners or products for washing and cleaning surfaces, materials, products, machinery, mechanical appliances, instruments, and apparatus.

The Detergents Regulation - Regulation (EC) No 648/2004 on Detergents (as amended)

The Detergents Regulation which first came into force on 8 October 2005 in the EU, is the retained EU law on detergents.

Regulation (EC) No 648/2004 on detergents - The EU Detergents Regulation - will continue to apply in Northern Ireland after the end of the transitional period by virtue of the Withdrawal Agreement and the provisions of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The 2010 Detergents Enforcement Regulations

The 2010 Detergents Enforcement Regulations:

  • includes the process for handling derogation applications and fees in Great Britain
  • appoints enforcement authorities in Great Britain
  • sets out the official controls and enforcement measures – including criminal penalties for breaches of the Detergents Regulation – in Great Britain

The 2010 Detergents Enforcement Regulations have also been amended to ensure that the Northern Ireland enforcement authorities can continue to enforce the EU Detergents Regulation in Northern Ireland, whilst the retained EU law can continue to be enforced in Great Britain. The amendments were made by the Detergents (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 (S.I. 2020/1617).

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Updated 2024-06-12