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 ?
Since household cleaners that promise maximum effectiveness in reducing and eliminating harmful bacteria and other potential health hazards are in demand, multi-purpose cleaners are gaining favor in some category segments with consumers and retailers alike.
Regarding storage conditions, disposal, and utilization of the cleaning materials, the results revealed that all household cleaners were stored in both the kitchen underthe-sink cabinets and bathroom; 42% of participants did not store household cleaners out of children's reach, and 90% had no locked storage spaces [Table 2].
For its part, Chicago-based market research firm IRI reports that sales of household cleaners topped $3 billion for the 52-week period ending Nov.
Accounting for about 3 percent of the total retail household cleaner and laundry product industry, the green market is an important niche, notes Packaged Facts in its March "Green Household Cleaning and Laundry Products in the U.
Packaged Facts' Green Household Cleaning and Laundry Products in the US, 3rd Edition, details how growth of the market for green household cleaners and laundry products was driven higher through 2010 by the entry of major mainstream mass marketers with green brands such as Clorox Green Works and a host of others.
Another means to capture more store brand sales would be to simply reduce some of the national competition in the household cleaner category.
Household cleaners is one of the least frequently bought categories we have studied, with just over half of shoppers saying they buy once a month or less.
DETERGENT giants Lever Brothers are to spend pounds 2million changing one letter of Britain's best-selling household cleaner.
A store's urban or rural location, for example, can play a large role in how the household cleaner section is developed.
In between the two aisles, feminine hygiene products (including wipes) and household cleaner products (including wipes) each are located in their own aisle.
These segment results shine when compared with the overall household cleaner category, which charted flat sales of almost $1.
During the same period, however, most total household cleaner subcategories experienced dollar and unit sales declines (see the table, p.

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