A method based on the application of ultra-performance liquid chromatography (UPLC) coupled to hybrid quadrupole-time-of-flight mass spectrometry (QqTOF-MS) with an electrospray (ESI) interface has been developed for the screening and confirmation of several anionic and non-ionic surfactants: linear alkylbenzenesulfonates (LAS), alkylsulfate (AS), alkylethersulfate (AES), dihexyl sulfosuccinate (DHSS), alcohol ethoxylates (AEOs), coconut diethanolamide (CDEA), nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEOs), and their degradation products (nonylphenol carboxylate (NPEC), octylphenol carboxylate (OPEC), 4-nonylphenol (NP), 4-octylphenol (OP) and NPEO sulfate (NPEO-SO4)). The developed methodology permits reliable quantification combined with a high accuracy confirmation based on the accurate mass of the (de)protonated molecules in the TOFMS mode. For further confirmation of the identity of the detected compounds the QqTOF mode was used. Accurate masses of product ions obtained by performing collision-induced dissociation (CID) of the (de)protonated molecules of parent compounds were matched with the ions obtained for a standard solution. The method was applied for the quantitative analysis and high accuracy confirmation of surfactants in complex mixtures in effluents from the textile industry. Positive identification of the target compounds was based on accurate mass measurement of the base peak, at least one product ion and the LC retention time of the analyte compared with that of a standard. The most frequently surfactants found in these textile effluents were NPEO and NPEO-SO4 in concentrations ranging from 0.93 to 5.68 mg/L for NPEO and 0.06 to 4.30 mg/L for NPEO-SO4. AEOs were also identified. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.