Surfactants were not needed in traditional textile production. Nonionic surfactants were adapting to the textile industry as different kinds of novel fibers were introduced to the industry. Materials such as composite fiber, profiled fiber and superfine fiber require nonionic surfactants to enhance wetting, reinforce effect and facilitates level dyeing.
In particular, nonionic surfactants are mainly used in desizing,refining, and dyeing process in textile production. In desizing process, nonionic surfactants are used to produce wetting agent and desizing agent, for example penetrant and JEC. In refining process, nonionic surfactants are used as emulsifier to remove impurities. Surfactants that do not have cleaning properties, such as polyol esters are normally not used in the refining process. Furthermore, in dyeing process, nonionic surfactants are used in combination with anionic and cationic dyes due to their nonionic characteristics.
Expect for several special nonionic surfactants, such as amine oxide, most of the nonionic surfactants have the characteristic of being dissociated in water. Along with their low toxicity and low hemolytic effect, nonionic surfactants have been widely used as emulsifier, antioxidant and anticoagulant in pharmaceutical production. For example, polyethylene glycol is used as adhesives in tablets and polyoxyethylene fatty alcohol is used as lubricant in tablets. Sorbitan fatty acid esters and polyethylene oxide block copolymers, can be used as emulsifiers for intravenous injection fluids.