Increased demand for homemade detergents in Qamishli

Homemade detergents in the city of Qamishli, northeastern Syria - August 10, 2023 (Enab Baladi /Rita Ahmed)

Homemade detergents in the city of Qamishli, northeastern Syria - August 10, 2023 (Enab Baladi /Rita Ahmed)


Qamishli – Rita Ahmed

“It is true that homemade cleaning materials are of average quality, but they are cheaper than ready-made ones, and the salary cannot cover increased expenses,” Muntaha al-Mohammad explains the reasons for her intention to buy locally manufactured detergents and shampoo from stores in the northeastern city of Qamishli.

Al-Mohammad buys shampoo and other household cleaners from local factories, even though their quality is not high. As an employee in the institutions of the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), she receives a monthly salary of 550,000 Syrian pounds (about $34).

Small projects and workshops manufacturing household cleaners are active in Qamishli and its countryside. According to their owners, they aim to provide the local market’s needs at lower prices than imported ones, secure job opportunities, and achieve somewhat acceptable financial profits, but they are not without some health risks.

The manufacture of detergents locally within workshops is not new to the region, as it has been active since 2015, despite some difficulties in securing raw materials for this industry, and it is subject to supervision by the Autonomous Administration, as announced by the municipalities of the region.

Cheap, Meets the need

The presence of local detergents does not prevent al-Mohammad from purchasing packaged detergents for clothes from wholesale stores because she is afraid that her washing machine will break down.

Qamishli-based Ruqaya al-Khader said that she is forced to buy cleaning materials from factories and workshops because their prices suit her monthly income, as the price of a two-kilogram box of laundry detergent from commercial stores is 40,000 Syrian pounds, while the price of detergent from a local factory is 15,000 pounds.

Ahmed al-Fadhil, the owner of a detergent factory in the industrial area of Qamishli, said that there are now many options for consumers for locally-made cleaning products, and they are in great demand due to their low prices, the weak purchasing power of citizens, and the high prices of ready-made detergents.

The prices and types of detergents vary, and although they are locally made, they are linked to the trading rate of the Syrian pound against the US dollar.

​​($1=13,750 SYP) according to the S-P Today website, which covers the trading rate of the Syrian pound to the dollar.

The merchant added that he works in his small factory with five other workers, and they distribute the work among them. They manufacture “dishwashing liquid, shampoo, floor freshener, liquid soap, and hair conditioner,” and the materials he uses in making detergents are “sulfonic acid, sodium hydroxide, rock salt, texapon, colorings, and perfumes.”

The raw materials used in the manufacture of detergents are imported from Turkey, and the workshops buy them from merchants who bring them through smuggling across the contact lines that separate the areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration from the northern and eastern countryside of Aleppo, Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad.

The workshops sell detergents by the kilo, and there are three types of dishwashing liquid, and their quality varies according to their price, starting from 4,000 SYP to 8,000 SYP, while the price of shampoo ranges between 6,000 SYP and 10,000 SYP, and the price of these items increases slightly depending on the increase in the price of the USD.

Health risks

The quality of local cleaning materials differs compared to those imported from abroad. Jamila Othman, 22, from Qamishli, said that she never trusts the products of local laboratories.

Othman used local shampoo, but it caused her hair to fall out dramatically, forcing her to see a doctor to treat her hair. She no longer buys it and does not advise anyone to buy it.

A Qamishli-based dermatologist told Enab Baladi that the damage resulting from improper manufacturing of detergents causes skin allergies in people who are allergic to one of the compounds used in the manufacture of detergents.

It also causes sensitivity of the respiratory system when inhaling certain odors due to the interaction of the substances, especially in the event that the composition is not specified or the concentration of the permissible percentage is increased.

It also affects people who suffer from asthma, lung diseases, or heart problems because it increases with the increase in the concentration of the compound, which makes it a threat to human health, according to the dermatologist, who asked not to be named for special reasons.

For his part, al-Fadhil said that he has work experience, as he worked in a large workshop making detergents for a year and a half, and from there, he learned how to make detergents, adding that he only makes the items that he learned.

He does not think about making other materials that he has not mastered for fear that they will cause health harm to its users.



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