Cleansing Action Of Soaps And Detergents

Cleansing action of Soaps and detergents

Most of the dirt is oily in nature and oil does not dissolve in water. The molecule of soap constitutes sodium or potassium salts of long chain carboxylic acids. In the case of soaps, the carbon chain dissolves in oil and the ionic end dissolves in water. Thus the soap molecules form structures called micelles .In micelles, one end is towards the oil droplet and the other end which is the ionic faces outside. Therefore, it forms an emulsion in water and helps in dissolving the dirt when we wash our clothes.

Soap is a kind of molecule in which both the ends have different properties.

  • Hydrophilic end
  • Hydrophobic end

The first one is the hydrophilic end which dissolves water and is attracted towards it whereas the second one is the hydrophobic end that is dissolved in hydrocarbons and is water repulsive in nature. If on the surface of the water, soap is present then the hydrophobic tail which is not soluble in water will align along the water surface.

Micelles

Soaps And Detergents

In water, the soap molecule is uniquely oriented which helps to keep the hydrocarbon part outside the water. When the clusters of molecules are formed then hydrophobic tail comes at the interior of the cluster and the ionic end comes at the surface of the cluster and this formation is called micelle. When the soap is in the form of micelles then it has the ability to clean the oily dirt which gets accumulated at the center. These micelles remain as a colloidal solutions. Therefore the dirt from the cloth is easily washed away. The soap solution appears cloudy as it forms a colloidal solution which scatters light.

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Practise This Question

Detergents are ammonium or sulphonate salts of long chain _________.