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Detergents, especially those made for use with water, often include different components such as:
There are several factors that dictate what compositions of detergent should be used, including the material to be cleaned, the apparatus to be used, and tolerance for and type of dirt. For instance, all of the following are used to clean glass. The sheer range of different detergents that can be used demonstrates the importance of context in the selection of an appropriate glass-cleaning agent:
Sometimes the word detergent is used to be distinguished from soap. For a while during the infancy of other surfactants as commercial detergent products, the term syndet, short for synthetic detergent was promoted to indicate the distinction, but never caught on very well, and is incorrect because of the production of soap via saponification of glycerides. The term soapless soap also saw a brief vogue. There is no accurate term for detergents not made of soap other than soapless detergent or non-soap detergent.
Also, the term detergent is sometimes used for surfactants in general, even when they are not used for cleaning. As can be seen above, this too is terminology that should be avoided as long as the term surfactant itself is available.
It can be noted that plain water, if used for cleaning, is a detergent. Probably the most widely-used detergents other than water are soaps or mixtures composed chiefly of soaps. However, not all soaps have significant detergency. Often the word "soap" is used to indicate any detergent, especially those that have characteristics similar to those of soap.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Detergent". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|