Abstract Biofiltration shows high efficiency for the removal of industrial waste gases and reliable operational stability at low investment and operating cost, especially when the VOC concentration is low, such as 100 ppmv (μL L −1) or less. However, it has been reported that the abrupt change in VOC concentrations leads to the failure of the biofilter. Hence, the pretreatment of waste gases is necessary to ensure the stable operation of the biofilter. The objective of this study is to develop a jet loop reactor (JLR) with circulation of a surfactant solution to lower the concentration of VOCs, especially hydrophobic VOCs. Toluene and Tween 81 were used as a model industrial waste gas and a surfactant, respectively. Among several non-ionic surfactants tested, Tween 81 showed the most rapid dissolution of toluene. When a JLR is replaced with fresh Tween 81 solution (0.3% w/v) every hour, it successfully absorbed for 48 h over 90% of the toluene in an inlet gas containing toluene at 1000 ppmv (μL L −1) or less. Therefore, JLR with circulation of a surfactant solution is believed to ensure the stable operation of the biofilter even with the unexpected increase in the VOC concentrations.