Detergents are amphipathic molecules that contain both polar and hydrophobic groups. These molecules contain a polar group (head) at the end of a long hydrophobic carbon chain (tail). In contrast to purely polar or non-polar molecules, amphipathic molecules exhibit unique properties in water. Their polar group forms hydrogen bonds with water molecules, while the hydrocarbon chains aggregate due to hydrophobic interactions. These properties allow detergents to be soluble in water. In aqueous solutions, they form organized spherical structures called micelles, each of which contain several detergent molecules. Because of their amphipathic nature, detergents are able to solubilize hydrophobic compounds in water. Detergents are also known as surfactants because they decrease the surface tension of water. A large number of detergents with various combinations of hydrophobic and hydrophilic groups are now commercially available. Based on the nature of the hydrophilic head group, they can be broadly classified as ionic, non-ionic, and zwitterionic detergents.

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