A class of synthetic surfactants in which the active group has a positive charge in water. Cationic detergents are more strongly absorbed on fabrics that are anionic or nonionic surfactants. They are used as wetting agents, fabric softeners, bacteriostats and emulsifiers. Example of cationic detergents are quaternary ammonium compounds, benzalkonium chloride and cetyltrimethyl ammonium bromide. They will precipitate when mixed with an anionic detergent (soap).
Synonyms and Related Terms