Ionic detergents reduce electrostatic charge on plastic spacers, thereby improving in vitro drug delivery. The aim of this study was to gain practical information on the use of detergents and to evaluate the relevance of this information on in vivo drug deposition. Measurement of electrostatic charge and salbutamol particle size distribution was carried out on detergent-coated and noncoated plastic spacers. The efficiency of four household detergents was compared, and the influence of dilution and the duration of the antistatic effect were studied. In addition, the level of radiolabelled salbutamol deposition in the lungs of eight healthy adults was compared after inhalation through a new versus a detergent-coated spacer. In vitro, all tested detergents reduced the electrostatic charge on the spacer surface. This resulted in a mean increase of 37.4% (range 33.5-41.2) in small particle (<6.8 microm) salbutamol output compared with water-rinsed/drip-dried spacers. Dilution had no influence on the results and the effect lasted for at least four weeks. In vivo, the mean lung deposition of radiolabelled salbutamol in healthy subjects was 45.6% (range 43.4-49.5) through a detergent-coated spacer compared to 11.5% (range 7.6-17.9) through a static spacer (p<0.001). In conclusion, household detergents offer a simple and practical solution to the problem of static on plastic spacers and significantly improve both in vitro and in vivo delivery of salbutamol.