Q:

What properties does detergent have?

A:

Quick Answer

Detergent decreases the surface tension of water and attracts molecules of dirt and grease. The surface-active elements that make up detergent have two ends. The hydrophilic (water-loving) end attracts water and pulls it towards the hydrophobic (water-hating) end. This reduces the surface tension of the water while also drawing the grease into the water. The combination is then suspended in mid-air on top of the clothing and washed off.

Continue Reading

Full Answer

Surfactants are also effective as emulsifiers, dispersants and foaming agents. As emulsifiers, they encourage the mixing of normally insoluble substances, such as water and oil, by suspending particles of one in the other. As dispersants, they cause droplets of grease to break off the main source, which makes things easier to clean. As foaming agents, the hydrophilic end of the detergent molecule points away from the water and toward the air, which forms bubbles as it is rubbed into the water quickly.

Chemically, there are several different kinds of detergents. Anionic and cationic brands are preferred for their effectiveness in breaking down proteins, but they are also harsh on clothing. Non-ionic brands remove dirt without causing proteins to break down as easily. Zwitterionic detergents have characteristics of the ionic and non-ionic brands and are used in chemical laboratories instead of the average household.

Learn more about Cleaning Products

Related Questions

  • Q:

    How do you make homemade grease remover?

    A:

    Make homemade grease remover by adding 1 cup of ammonia, 1/2 cup of vinegar and a 1/4 cup of baking soda to a gallon of water. Mix it well and use a cloth to remove grease. Store it in a clean jug with a lid for later use, and always stir the mixture before each use in case baking soda settles at the bottom.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How do you clean greasy kitchen cabinets?

    A:

    According to SFGate, ways to remove grease from kitchen cabinets include scrubbing them with soap and water or wiping them down with white vinegar. A mixture of baking soda and vegetable oil can also help remove grease from cabinets.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How does shampoo and water act together to clean the hair?

    A:

    Shampoos contain surfactants that lessen the surface tension of water, which binds to the oil and dirt on the hair that washes away when rinsed. Surfactants are also found in laundry detergent and bath gels. The surfactants in shampoo usually include sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate and it is combined with a co-surfactant, such as cocamidopropyl betaine, which makes the shampoo viscous.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How does cohesion affect living organisms?

    A:

    Cohesion of water molecules is responsible for creating water's surface tension, which allows insects to walk along the top surface of the water, mate and feed on the water's surface. The cohesive property of water is also partially responsible for plants' ability to pull water upward from the roots to the leaves.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore