Definition of detergent in US English:



  • 1A water-soluble cleansing agent which 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.

    • ‘Use a non-ammonia soap or detergent in hot water, or use a commercial cleaner to scrub the entire area affected by mold.’
    • ‘All-purpose household cleaners, soaps, detergents and wax removers usually contain one or more alkalis, and so should not be used on terrazzo.’
    • ‘For some it's best to avoid soaps with detergents or dyes to clean sensitive areas.’
    • ‘Rainwater typically has very low hardness levels, which reduces the use of soaps and detergents, and eliminates the need for a water softener.’
    • ‘Nearly all manufactured products that we use today, like gasoline, detergents, and batteries, depend in some way on sulfuric acid for their production.’
    • ‘Baking soda, distilled white vinegar, washing soda, Borax and a good liquid soap or detergent will do nicely.’
    • ‘When using washing-machine water, combine the rinse-cycle water with the wash-cycle water to dilute the detergent and bleaching agents.’
    • ‘Since soap and detergents are salts, they separate into their component ions in a solution of water.’
    • ‘This same swimming response can be elicited by contact with several other seastars, or by surfactants such as soaps and detergents, or by strong salt solutions.’
    • ‘It is important to note that the molecular weights of the detergents differ.’
    • ‘It is known as washing soda or soda ash, and is used for softening water, in the manufacture of borax, and in making glass, paper, detergents, and soap.’
    • ‘Use plain water, detergents, suitable proprietary compounds, or emulsifying agents.’
    • ‘Various fatty acids are used to make soaps and detergents that have different applications in society.’
    • ‘In addition, it is used in water purification systems and in the production of many commercial products, such as glass, pulp and paper, soaps and detergents, and textiles.’
    • ‘For a cheap window cleaner try this mixture: combine 4 tablespoons rubbing alcohol with 1/2 teaspoon liquid detergent in 4 cups water.’
    • ‘They are also added to soaps and detergents to give them their ‘fresh lemon scent.’’
    • ‘Or use a soft scrub brush and a detergent / water solution to remove all dirt and grime.’
    • ‘Washing machine detergents contain alkaline agents, which can cause the most severe form of chemical eye injury.’
    • ‘Eczema in adults can be caused by a number of substances, including cleaning agents, soaps and detergents.’
    • ‘Alkalis, acids, bleaches or detergents are added to water to chemically react with specific soils and loosen them so they are removed with the water.’
    cleaner, cleanser
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    1. 1.1 Any additive with an action similar to a detergent, e.g., an oil-soluble substance that holds dirt in suspension in lubricating oil.
      • ‘A lower level of detergent may cause a buildup of deposits on critical engine parts.’
      • ‘A gasoline detergent is a lot like a household detergent, helping to prevent any harmful deposit build-up.’


  • Relating to detergent compounds or their action.

    ‘staining that resists detergent action’
    • ‘In dry foam cleaning a detergent solution is whipped into foam and applied to the carpet.’
    • ‘Another agreed upon fact is that it is extremely important to rinse away every last drop of detergent residue from your hair.’
    • ‘Here, polar interactions between charged amino acids and phosphatidylcholine headgroups act as condensation seed for detergent micelle formation.’
    • ‘This is mainly the result of hydrophobic partitioning of individual detergent molecules at lipid and protein-lipid interfaces.’
    • ‘Indeed, there was preliminary evidence for a dimeric arrangement of CitS in detergent micelles and lipid membranes.’
    • ‘Puzzles can be created by saving cardboard packaging from cereal boxes, detergent boxes, soda cartons, etc.’
    • ‘Water is a fabulous cleaning agent, but it's even better when tiny nanoscale particles, such as detergent surfactants, are dispersed in it.’
    • ‘Dust control strategies include the use of an all-purpose cleaner or detergent solution to wipe or mop the floors, walls and horizontal surfaces of lead-contaminated dwellings.’
    • ‘As shown in a recent modeling of another membrane protein detergent molecules rearrange to form a fused micelle around the protein and in our case they adapt to the irregular surface of the monomer better than phospholipids.’
    • ‘Initiatives such as replacing chemical solvents with detergent solutions for cleaning metal parts are promoted throughout the Marine Corps.’
    • ‘A fresh or recirculated rinsing stage can be provided to flush detergent residues from parts.’
    • ‘The question of whether or not the static deformation is representative for the structure of LH2 in detergent solution or in membranes remains to be answered.’
    • ‘They held a live demonstration on the preparation of detergent cakes, sandalwood powder and phenyl.’
    • ‘As MII can activate transducin in detergent solution, specific lipid molecules are probably not important for this function.’
    • ‘For example, LH1 - RC complexes are much more unstable in detergent solution than LH2 complexes.’
    • ‘During stage I, detergent molecules partition between the aqueous buffer and the bilayer forming detergent-doped liposomes.’
    • ‘The Shell Higher Olefin Process also uses metathesis technology to convert ethene to detergent range molecules.’
    • ‘Wash removable glass shelves and plastic parts in warm detergent solution, rinse and wipe dry.’
    • ‘High density polyethylene products, such as milk containers, are cut into small pieces and remelted to make detergent bottles.’
    • ‘Using a stiff long handled brush, scrub stain with concentrated detergent suds.’
    cleaning, cleansing
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Early 17th century (as an adjective): from Latin detergent- ‘wiping away’, from the verb detergere, from de- ‘away from’ + tergere ‘to wipe’.