Maintaining Clarity: Color Measurement in Clear Liquid Soaps, Cleansers, and Laundry Detergents

color measurement
Spectrophotometric instrumentation can help you maintain colorlessness in liquid soaps, cleansers, and detergents to enhance appeal.
Image Source: Unsplash user Sebastian Pichler


The explosion of interest in healthier living and wariness of harmful chemicals has spurred public demand for products without artificial dyes across industries, from food to pharmaceuticals. Today, an increasing number of liquid cosmetic and household products such as soaps, cleansers, and laundry detergents are being produced to meet the needs of consumers who want to avoid coloring agents. For some, the interest is conscious and deliberate.1 For others, the suggestion of cleanliness, purity, efficacy, and gentleness of colorless liquids is subconscious and draw consumers in on a visceral level. This increased desire for an absence of color demands enhanced precision in the analysis of colorless liquids.

Maintaining Colorlessness

Ensuring the clarity and colorlessness of liquids is an art in itself. Far from just a matter of not adding dyes, production colorless soaps, cleaners, and laundry detergents often requires a delicate balance of ingredients and processing methods to ensure a satisfying aesthetic appearance. Temperature fluctuation, imprecise formulation, and deterioration of sensitive ingredients such as fragrances can all create color variation, particularly yellowing, which can have a significant impact on the perception of quality amongst customers. However, small divergences from colorlessness can be extraordinarily difficult to perceive by human sight alone and these liquids are particularly susceptible to environmental influences on perception. Batch-to-batch variations are especially likely to be missed if you are viewing a sample in isolation. The advanced technology of spectrophotometric instrumentation allows you to analyze the liquid spectrally to consistently identify color variation without the interference of environmental factors or subjectivity of human perception, ensuring consistency across manufacturing locations and between operators.

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color measurement
Creating clear liquid soaps and detergents requires precise formulation and spectrophotometric monitor to ensure colorlessness.
Image Source: Flickr user Simon Fraser University – University Communications

Transmitted Color Measurement

Diffuse sphere spectrophotometry provides an ideal apparatus by which to measure colorless liquid samples. Because clear, colorless liquids do not reflect color, they must be measured via transmittance. By analyzing the color transmitted by the liquid to produce quantifiable data, you can quickly and easily identify deviations from colorlessness. Typically, colorless liquids are analyzed using the APHA/Pt-Co/Hazen color scale, a color measurement method specifically designed to analyze “water whiteness.”2 Originally designed to analyze wastewater, the APHA scale is now used across industries to measure purity of colorless and near colorless liquids. By comparing the sample to a platinum-cobalt reference solution, spectrophotometric instrumentation provides objective spectral information and identifies even minute yellowness easily missed by the human eye, instantly alerting operators to deviations from the standard and allowing them to take corrective action. Ingredients such as fragrances may be measured individually before they are added to the primary formula to ensure that they will not interfere with colorlessness. Maintaining strict quality control via ongoing color measurement throughout the production process enables you to optimize accuracy, efficiency, and cost-savings.

color measurement
The APHA scale was designed to measure the water whiteness of clear liquids and is now used across industries as a standard of purity.
Image Source: Unsplash user Ryan Wilson


HunterLab Innovation

HunterLab had over six decades of experience producing the finest color measurement instruments available across a diverse range of industries. Our advanced spectrophotometric technologies give you sophisticated, user-friendly options for measuring colorless liquids with precision and ease. Our commitment to innovation, ingenuity, and customer service ensures that you have the tools and support to maintain the highest level of quality within your manufacturing process. Contact us today to learn more about what we have to offer and how we can help you stay responsive in the modern marketplace.

  1. “Seventh Generation Highlights Its Chemical Free Detergent,” December 29, 2009,
  2. Standard Test Method for Color of Clear Liquids (Platinum-Cobalt Scale),” 2011,
  • Pekun Tonade

    Please, l have a serious challenge in the area of my liquid dishwashing soap CLARITY.

    My product look cloudy or uncleared or not transparent.

    Kindly assist to advice me the ingredient/agent l can use to make my soap clarity good. Is there any other ingredient that can work like ‘Novethix HC 200 Polymer’.

    Thank you and hope to hear from you soon.


    we need to check the detergent affect on removing stains from standarad swatches.
    please suggest model accordingly

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