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Evolving laundry habits and tech drive category innovation at Unilever


Average read time: 3 minutes

Unilever Power Brand, Dirt Is Good, harnesses the short-cycle phenomenon with 15-minute laundry detergent.

Four bottles of Persil Wonder Wash on a production line.

Unilever has today announced the launch of a new, science-backed innovation in response to evolving laundry needs, and the changing technology in consumers’ homes. Under its Dirt Is Good brand (known as Persil, OMO and Skip), Unilever has used cutting-edge robotics and AI to develop Wonder Wash, a laundry detergent specifically designed for outstanding performance even in a 15-minute cycle.

A growth in the popularity of malodour-retaining athleisurewear, compounded by hybrid-working patterns adopted since the pandemic, has also led to a shift in the type of laundry consumers are doing.

A change in habits, such as a reduction in daily commutes, has meant that while clothing still picks up invisible grease and grime, the majority (70%) of the clothing we wash now contains no visible stains[a]. Instead, it is soiled with invisible sweat, dust and odour-causing body oils. As a result, over two thirds (78%) of washing machine owners choose a cycle that lasts less-than-30-minute at least once a week[b].

This, coupled with the rise of washing machines with cycle settings as short as 15 minutes, has created a new consumer need – an effective product that can perform even in the shortest cycles, and without leaving a sticky residue.

Leveraging a century’s worth of expertise in laundry detergent formulation, together with robotics and AI, Unilever has completely ‘rebuilt’ a laundry detergent to address new consumer needs, including the desire to save on the cost of energy. Wonder Wash has been designed to outperform leading detergent brands in cycles as short as 15 minutes, while still being suitable for longer cycles. Testing shows that through the product’s revolutionary Pro-S technology, it performs better than the competition against the four biggest pain points of short cycle users: malodour removal, absence of residues, freshness and fabric care.

While regular liquid detergents aren’t designed for best performance in short cycles and can leave sticky residues, Unilever scientists have developed a blend of fast-acting ingredients, which activate as soon as the cycle begins, tackling everyday grime and malodour compounds in a matter of minutes, and in the most challenging washing conditions. With 35 patents pending, the innovation is set to create a new category of laundry products.

Eduardo Campanella, Business Group President, Unilever Home Care, said: “Until now, laundry detergents have not kept pace with changing consumer behaviours. By harnessing people’s enthusiasm for short cycles for everyday stains, we’re opening up the potential for a new category of short cycle products within laundry. This breakthrough in fast-acting cleaning will come to consumers around the world under Dirt Is Good, one of Unilever’s 30 Power Brands – where we’re really focusing our investment and bringing through bigger and better innovations.

“As part of Unilever Home Care’s Clean Future Strategy, not only is this about delivering an unmissably superior laundry experience, but reducing environmental impact by encouraging the use of shorter, energy-saving cycles. Using over a century in detergent-development, we’ve overcome a real technical challenge to offer outstanding performance even in the shortest timeframe and the difficult washing conditions of the short cycle.”

Helping to make one of Unilever’s 30 Power Brands unmissable, Dirt Is Good has partnered with the fastest man on earth, Usain Bolt, as part of its advertising campaign. Wonder Wash will launch in the UK, Ireland and China from mid-April across all major retailers before expanding to other markets, including France, later this year.


Data source: Toluna Survey, November 2022.


Data source: Toluna H&A Study, November 22 (UK, FR, BR), June 23 (VN, TH, TK, ANZ)

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