Soap, by this definition, is a surfactant. In fact, it is the oldest one and has
been in use for 4500 years. Some soap manufacture took place in Venice and Savona in the
fifteenth century, and in Marseilles in the seventeenth century.
By the eighteenth century, manufacture was widespread throughout Europe and
North America, and by the nineteenth century the making of soap had become a major
As a matter of fact, soap became a detergent in 1907 when a German company put
the product "Persil" on the market. In addition to the carboxylic acid soap,
"Persil" contained sodium perborate, sodium silicate and sodium carbonate. Hence
perborate + silicate = "PERSIL".