de·ter·gent / diˈtərjənt/ •
n. a water-soluble cleansing agent that combines with impurities and dirt to make them more soluble and differs from soap in not forming a scum with the salts in hard water. ∎ any additive with a similar action, e.g., an oil-soluble substance that holds dirt in suspension in lubricating oil.•
adj. of or relating to such compounds or their action: staining that resists detergent action.DERIVATIVES: de·ter·gence n.de·ter·gen·cy n.
Synthetic chemical cleansing substance. The most common type is alkyl sulphonate. Detergents have molecules that possess a long hydrocarbon chain attached to an ionized group. This chain attaches to grease and other nonpolar substances, while the ionized group has an affinity for water (so the grease is washed away with the water).
detergent (di-ter-jĕnt) n.
a synthetic cleansing agent that removes all impurities from a surface by reacting with grease and suspended particles, including bacteria and other microorganisms.