adjective \-jənt\

Definition of DETERGENT

:  that cleanses :  cleansing <a detergent oil>

First Known Use of DETERGENT




: a powder or liquid that is used to clean clothes, dishes, etc. : a chemical substance that is like soap

Full Definition of DETERGENT

:  a cleansing agent: as
a :  soap
b :  any of numerous synthetic water-soluble or liquid organic preparations that are chemically different from soaps but are able to emulsify oils, hold dirt in suspension, and act as wetting agents
c :  an oil-soluble substance that holds insoluble foreign matter in suspension and is used in lubricating oils and dry-cleaning solvents

Examples of DETERGENT

  1. We have tried different laundry detergents.
  2. <add the detergent to the washing machine before putting in the clothes>

First Known Use of DETERGENT


Related to DETERGENT


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Any of various surfactants (substances that reduce surface tension) used to dislodge dirt from soiled surfaces and retain it in suspension, allowing it to be rinsed away. The term usually refers to synthetic substances and excludes soaps. The characteristic features of a molecule of any detergent are a hydrophilic (water-attracting) end and a hydrophobic (oil-attracting) end. In ionic detergents, the hydrophilic property is conferred by the ionized part of the molecule. In nonionic detergents, hydrophilicity is based on the presence of multiple hydroxyl groups or other hydrophilic groups. Besides those used in water to clean dishes and laundry, detergents that function in other solvents are used in lubricating oils, gasolines, and dry-cleaning solvents to prevent or remove unwanted deposits. They are also used as emulsifying agents (see emulsion).


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