detergent de·ter·gent (dĭ-tûr'jənt)
A cleansing substance that acts similarly to soap but is made from chemical compounds rather than fats and lye. adj.
Having cleansing power.
|detergent (dĭ-tûr'jənt) Pronunciation Key
A cleaning agent that increases the ability of water to penetrate fabric and break down greases and dirt. Detergents act like soap but, unlike soaps, they are derived from organic acids rather than fatty acids. Their molecules surround particles of grease and dirt, allowing them to be carried away. Compare soap.