Eli5 Why does soap help clean so well? What about its characteristics makes it a great cleaning solution?

50 views
0

Eli5 Why does soap help clean so well? What about its characteristics makes it a great cleaning solution?

In: Chemistry

Soap doesn’t clean it makes surfaces extremely slippery, so everything including bacteria falls off with the water.

Soap is amazing because it is made of fat. It has a fat loving end and a water loving end. The fat loving end (the tail) is hydrophobic, so it forms a ring around the dirt/waste to try and get away from it. The water loving head being hydrophilic allows it to form a capsule around the waste and be carried by water down the sink!

You can think about a molecule of soap like a cooked spaghetti noodle with a little magnet attached to one end. The little magnet makes the soap attracted to water, because a water molecule is bent and has electromagnetic properties. The spaghetti end of soap is unlike a magnet, and other non-electromagnetic things (like dirts and oils) kind of hang out at the spaghetti end.

So the impurities that are hanging out at the spaghetti end of the soap molecule get removed because the other end is magnetically attracted to water, which washes away.

Soap molecules have a water-loving (hydrophilic) and a water repellent (hydrophobic) end. The hydrophobic end sticks to oils and greases that hold the dirt in place, creating a droplet with the hydrophilic ends sticking out. It’s now created something that can disperse in water and so be washed away where the unchanged grease couldn’t.