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People use surfactants every day when shampooing or washing dishes. For example, dish soaps contain surfactants that help the water penetrate stuck-on grease and wash it away. However, surfactants also assist farmers and homeowners who want to enhance the effects of an insecticide, an herbicide or a foliar nutrient product.

How Does a Surfactant Work?

A surfactant contains both water-soluble and oil-soluble properties, allowing oil and water to coexist within the same mixture without dividing. For example, oil rests at the top of water in a container. After applying a surfactant, the oil and water mingle together and remain mixed for an extended time. A surfactant also works with other liquids.

Why Use a Surfactant?
Overall, a surfactant breaks up a liquid's surface tension and allows two substances to work together more effectively. In the case of gardening and lawn care, a surfactant increases the effectiveness of herbicides and growth regulators in the plants. It reduces the uptake of the product into the plant and helps it work more quickly.

How to Use Surfactants
Check the label of the herbicide or other product to see if it combines well with a surfactant. Afterward, either mix the product with the surfactant or apply the surfactant before spraying the herbicide or other product. Applying the two products together cuts down on application time and enhances the effects immediately.

When to Use a Surfactant
Plant leaves have a natural barrier that makes it difficult for chemical herbicides to pass through. Use a surfactant to break up this tension and help the product to start working quickly and thoroughly. As long as the product works with a surfactant, combine it with water and spray it evenly over the target area. From herbicides to pesticides, a surfactant boosts a product's effectiveness and provides quicker results for killing weeds, growing turfgrass and eliminating pest infestations.