The Soap and Detergent Association Turns 80

When the U.S. Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) meets this month in Florida, attendees will join the celebration of the group’s 80th anniversary. They will meet under the theme “SDA at 80: A vital past, an essential future,” a theme Brian Sansoni, vice president of communication and membership, SDA, says “captures for us what our industry has produced and contributed to society over the past century.”

The group has evolved from its start as the Association of Soap and Glycerin Producers of America, in the era before modern detergents. The products its members make have become vital to health and happiness, beauty and comfort. Sansoni points to products consumers can carry with them—portable hand sanitizers and wipes—as very important in helping to keep people healthy. These things would not have been possible without significant innovation in product and packaging design.

The organization was headquartered in New York until five years ago when it moved to Washington, D.C. Early leaders created the Cleanliness Institute, a public service agency, and current leaders are amazed to see how similar the early mission was compared to efforts today. Posters and pamphlets will be on display in Boca Raton, Florida, as part of a History of Soaps and Detergents display commemorating the anniversary. The artwork decorating this page is part of the display. Over the years, member companies have contributed a broad array of innovation in research and development, changing the industry and its needs, but the SDA’s core mission is the same: to effectively represent the industry in a responsible, progressive and science-based manner; to be the preferred source of useful and credible information related to cleaning products and practices.

Today, the SDA employs 20 people and represents about 100 companies. Sansoni said that considering the economic challenges its members have faced over the years, the base has remained fairly stable. “Smart companies realize it is smart to be involved,” he said. “We know what we do, and we work to do it very well. It is important to have a specialized focus.” The SDA’s educational outreach program is handled in-house. The group enjoys a long reputation for good information, said Sansoni. “Companies are looking for efficiency in how they spend their dollars. We do things in-house and they see that we’re doing that for them.” More information is available at the association’s Web site,