This study aimed to optimize organo-clay formulations for reduction of leaching of the herbicides alachlor, metolachlor, and norflurazon, which include a phenyl ring in the structure. The adsorbed amounts of herbicides increased several-fold when montmorillonite was preadsorbed by an organic cation; benzyltrimethylammonium (BTMA) was more effective than benzyltriethylammonium (BTEA). Fourier transform infrared studies indicated interactions between alachlor molecules and adsorbed BTMA. The adsorption affinity of the herbicides increased with BTEA loading up to the cation exchange capacity (CEC) of montmorillonite but reached a maximum at a BTMA loading of 5/8 of the CEC. The enhanced adsorbed amounts of herbicides are mainly due to interactions between the phenyl rings of herbicide molecules and organic cations, which are favored with the smaller cation, BTMA. BTMA preadsorbed on the clay up to the CEC forms a fraction (14-18%) of charged dimers so that less phenyl rings are available for interacting with herbicide molecules. This effect is small for preloading by BTEA, so that the amounts adsorbed increase with the degree of preloading. Thus, optimization of clay- based herbicide formulations requires a selection of structurally compatible organic cations preadsorbed on the clay at optimal coverage.