In this work, we investigate the ability of different surfactants to form homogeneous and stable dispersions of carbon nano-onions (CNOs) in water via non-covalent interactions. For our purposes, we select three ionic surfactants, namely the cationic hexadecyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) and the two anionic deoxycholic acid sodium salt (DCAS) and sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate (SDBS). We examine the dispersing efficacy at dispersing CNOs and long-term stability by UV–vis absorption spectroscopy, dynamic light scattering and zeta-potential. Among the three surfactants, the anionic surfactants show the best ability to create stable CNO dispersions, with SDBS exhibiting superior efficacy. Our non-covalent strategy provides a valuable approach to enhance the solubility features while preserving the unique properties of CNOs.