Detergents enable the purification of membrane proteins and are indispensable reagents in structural biology. Even though a large variety of detergents have been developed in the last century, the challenge remains to identify guidelines that allow fine-tuning of detergents for individual applications in membrane protein research. Addressing this challenge, here we introduce the family of oligoglycerol detergents (OGDs). Native mass spectrometry (MS) reveals that the modular OGD architecture offers the ability to control protein purification and to preserve interactions with native membrane lipids during purification. In addition to a broad range of bacterial membrane proteins, OGDs also enable the purification and analysis of a functional G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR). Moreover, given the modular design of these detergents, we anticipate fine-tuning of their properties for specific applications in structural biology. Seen from a broader perspective, this represents a significant advance for the investigation of membrane proteins and their interactions with lipids.