Thu January 05, 2012 By: Akshat Saxena

Explain the working of soaps and detergents.

Expert Reply
Thu January 05, 2012
A soap/detergent is a molecule that has a long chain of carbon atoms attached to a COONa group.The chain of C atoms is "nonpolar" and hydrophobic(water repellent). The COONa end of the molecular is "polar” and hydrophilic(water dissolving) Dirt, and grease in particular are nonpolar substances. They are attracted to the nonpolar part of the soap molecule.Water is a polar molecule which dissolve the COONa end to form chain-COO- and Na+. So the soap/detergent acts as a bridge connecting oil to water allowing the oil to be carried away from the surface we are trying to clean and the dirty cloths thus get washed.
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