DOI: 10.1002/jsde.12704 ISSN:

Structure–activity relationship on selective antibacterial activity of nonionic surfactants

Mayu Tanaka, Mina Kurose, Shigekazu Yano, Seiya Tanaka, Naohiro Gotoh, Yoshimune Nonomura
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering


The antibacterial activity of surfactants is an important factor to consider for improving skin conditions in cosmetic and skin care products. In this study, we evaluated the antibacterial activity of 16 nonionic surfactants containing ethylene oxide, ester, and ether functional groups against Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) and Staphylococcus epidermidis (S. epidermidis). 12:0 MG ester and 6–12 diol, which showed antibacterial activity against both Staphylococci, had compact hydrophilic groups with low polarity. In contrast, 12:0 PEG‐10 ester and 12:0 Sor ester, which showed antibacterial activity only against S. aureus, had large hydrophilic groups and high polarity. These results suggest that the hydrophilicity and polarity of the surfactant may be involved in its antibacterial behavior against Staphylococci. These findings will be useful in the design of surfactant molecules and in the development of cosmetics and body cleansers that exhibit antibacterial activity only against S. aureus.

More from our Archive