detergent


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detergent

(dētûr`jənt, dĭ–), substance that aids in the removal of dirt. Detergents act mainly on the oily films that trap dirt particles. The detergent molecules have a hydrocarbon portion, soluble in oil, and an ionic portion, soluble in water. The detergent acts as an emulsifier, i.e., by bridging the water and oil phases, it breaks the oil into tiny droplets suspended in water. The disruption of the oil film allows the dirt particles to become solubilized. Soap, the sodium salt of long-chain fatty acids, is a good detergent although it has some disadvantages, e.g., it forms insoluble compounds with certain salts found in hard water thus diminishing its effectiveness, and in acid solutions, frequently used in industry, it is decomposed (thus precipitating the free fatty acid of the soap). Synthetic detergents were produced experimentally in France before the middle of the 19th cent. and were further developed in Germany during World War I. However, not until the 1930s were chemical processes developed that made production in quantity feasible in any country. Synthetic detergents were first developed for commercial use in the 1950s. Detergents are classified as anionic, or negatively charged, e.g., soaps; cationic, or positively charged, e.g., tetraalkyl ammonium chloride, used as fabric softeners; nonionic, e.g., certain esters made from oil, used as degreasing agents in industry; and zwitterionic, containing both positive and negative ions on the same molecule. Detergents are incorporated in such products as dry-cleaning solutions, toothpastes, antiseptics, and solutions for removing poison sprays from vegetables and fruit. Laundry detergent preparations may contain substances called builders, which enhance cleansing; however, phosphate-containing builders have been found to contribute to eutrophicationeutrophication
, aging of a lake by biological enrichment of its water. In a young lake the water is cold and clear, supporting little life. With time, streams draining into the lake introduce nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, which encourage the growth of aquatic
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 of waterways and their use has been banned in many areas. Detergents that can be decomposed by microorganisms are termed biodegradable. Detergents are important chemicals used for enhanced petroleum recovery.

detergent

[di′tər·jənt]
(materials)
A synthetic cleansing agent resembling soap in the ability to emulsify oil and hold dirt, and containing surfactants which do not precipitate in hard water; may also contain protease enzymes and whitening agents.

detergent

a cleansing agent, esp a surface-active chemical such as an alkyl sulphonate, widely used in industry, laundering, shampoos, etc.
References in periodicals archive ?
v=pM6wanZOLtk) Don't Eat The Laundry Pods ," in March 2017 where a college student swallowed a bunch of detergent pods and at the end declared that he felt fine.
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Parents need to be aware of the appeal of laundry detergent to young children.
According to the companies, the scale-up was achieved at a 1,500 litre demonstration facility at Chemtex's R&D complex in Tortona, Italy, which is a key milestone in the ongoing effort to develop a fully integrated biomass to detergent alcohols technology.
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The second decision defines the group of industrial and institutional automatic dishwasher detergents as including single and multi-component dishwasher detergents, rinse and pre-soaks designed for use in professional dishwashers.
The country's detergent production capacity grew slightly over the years until 2009.
For the Middle East users, it particularly brings the added advantage of reduced water and energy use as well as savings in detergent usage," said Georg Kazantzidis, marketing and business development director, BSH.
And modern laundry detergent is already phosphate-free because of a 1993 ban.
You don't expect it to work as well as Cascade or something like that, but it does get your dishes clean and I don't seem to have any problems with it at all," he said, mentioning one popular detergent.