What does surfactant prevent?
Non-ionic surfactants like alcohol ethoxylates also adsorb on the dirt. Their long ethoxylated chains extend in the water phase and prevent the dirt droplets or particles from uniting,, and from depositing onto the fabric surface. This is shown in the illustration below: (1) Dirt is present in solution (2) The non-ionic surfactants adsorb to the dirt particles. (3) Their long hydrophilic heads extend in the water phase and as a result prevent the dirt particles/droplets from uniting and from re-depositing onto fabrics.