Sunday, March 3Not Your Ordinary English-Tagalog Dictionary

What is Laundry Detergent in Tagalog? History, Kinds and Uses

Laundry detergent in Tagalog is called “sabong panlaba.” In English, sabon means “soap” and panlaba means “for washing”. Note that detergent is different from soap, especially the bath soap. Laundry detergent in the Philippines is commonly available in bars and powder. Liquid detergent is also available in the country but is not widely used. 

laundry detergent in Tagalog
Laundry detergent in the Philippines

Some people use the terms “detergent” and “soap” interchangeably. However, these two cleaning agents differ in their ingredients and characteristics. Detergents contain chemical ingredients like enzymes that aid in breaking down dirt and stains on fabrics, while soaps typically consist of natural ingredients such as plant oils and animal fats.

Historically, Filipino women used to wash clothes in groups by the river, utilizing running water and a laundry stone or washing paddle (palo-palo). Powdered soap has been used in the country since the 1880s, along with coconut oil-based soap bars. In 1946, Procter & Gamble (P&G) introduced Tide detergent powder, which was subsequently launched in the country in 1957. 

Tide powder gained immense popularity throughout the country and outperformed Wheel, a laundry soap bar manufactured by the Philippine Refining Company (PRC), now known as Unilever Philippines. In the early 1970s, PRC introduced Superwheel, a detergent bar aimed at convincing Filipinos that a detergent bar is better than powder. In response, P&G introduced Mr. Clean.

During that period, each brand often features renowned celebrities and personalities as brand ambassadors. Presently, there are numerous detergent powder and bar brands available in the Philippines. Detergent companies are now incorporating inspirational stories in their video advertisements to promote their products.

With the resurgence of washing machines in the Philippines, the use of detergent powder is again on the rise. Laundry shops are now found on almost every street corner in cities and developing provinces. Filipinos also have a habit of soaking white clothes in detergent powder overnight, making it easier to remove stains and dirt the following day.

However, detergent bars continue to be the preferred option in average Filipino households. Despite detergent powder being cheaper than bars, many Filipinos believe that the latter is more cost-effective in the long run. This is likely because bars do not easily dissolve during manual washing, and people used them to brush off dirt from clothes.

Detergent bar in Tagalog is “sabong bareta.” And although powder in Tagalog is “pulbos”, Filipinos call detergent powder “sabong powder” since “pulbos” is commonly referred to as “baby powder.”

Use sabong panlaba in a sentence. 


Paki bili mo ako ng sabong panlaba, isang bareta at isang powder. 


Please buy me laundry detergent, one bar and one powder.

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