∞ generated and posted on 2016.02.06 ∞

Non-soap surfactant that is active as a cleanser even in relatively dilute aqueous solutions.

Detergents can be differentiated chemically and particularly in terms of the charge associated with their hydrophilic regions, which is how these compounds interact with water. Their hydrophobic portions, in turn, are the means by which detergents are able to solubilize fats, oils, and other hydrophobic substances, thereby contributing to the solubilization of these materials and thereby subsequent removal.

Anionic detergents have a negative charge and include the anion portion of bile salts. Cationic detergents have a positive charge and include especially quaternary ammonium compounds. There also are uncharged detergents along with detergents that possess both negative and positive charges, termed zwitterionic.

Detergents used in everyday life have a greater solubility in hard water than do soaps. They are used as cleansers predominantly because of their potential to suspend hydrophobic substances in water.

It is important to recognize that unless specifically formulated to do so, detergents as well as soaps serve as degerming rather than germicidal agents.