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 ?
Many vendors have introduced dishwashing detergent products in recyclable containers catering to the demand for eco-friendly products.
ACI issued the following statement in response to the introduction of congressional legislation addressing the safety of detergent packets: "The American Cleaning Institute is aware of new legislative proposals addressing liquid detergent packets.
Police have been tracking one man, who has stolen more than $8,000 worth of Tide laundry detergent in the Ft.
There are not many big players in detergent industry in Indonesia.
BUT NOWHERE--NOT EVEN IN THE CARE MANUAL--DOES IT SAY WHICH DETERGENTS CONTAIN BRIGHTENERS AND WHICH DON'T.
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.
Although it breaks down grease, removes stains and softens hard water, phosphorus in detergents can end up in rivers and lakes, where it acts like a fertilizer, increasing algae and aquatic weeds that rob fish and other plants of oxygen.
Sharply reducing the amount of phosphate allowed in dishwasher detergent is expected to reduce the cost of operating treatment plants.
Liquid fabric detergent capsules were first produced in 2001.
1 million of various detergents and hygiene products during the first 5 months of the current Iranian calendar year (started March 21).
Oman's celebrated detergents company hopes to make a dent in the Middle East market with its recently introduced product named after a male Arabic costume.
Phosphorus was banned from many detergents years ago, and many people assumed that meant phosphorus had been banned from their dishwashing detergent, as well.