(Science: chemistry) An agent which purifies or cleanses.
(Science: cell biology) amphipathic, surface active, molecules with polar (water soluble) and nonpolar hydrophobic) domains. They bind strongly to hydrophobic molecules or molecular domains to confer water solubility.
Examples include: sodium dodecyl sulphate, fatty acid salts, the Triton family, octyl glycoside.
Origin: L. Detergere = to cleanse