How does washing- up liquid work?

Wednesday 21st July 2010
Submitted by nikkiwithers
Anon

Detergent molecules are hydrocarbon chains with one end that’s attracted to water and another end that’s attracted to oil. The oil-grabbing (hydrophobic) ends attach themselves to food on the plate and surround it with their water-grabbing (hydrophilic) ends pointing outwards. This makes the engulfed particles water-soluble so they can be rinsed away.

GOT A QUESTION?

Scratching your head over a burning scientific conundrum? submit your question and we'll get our esteemed panel of experts to answer it for you.

 

Will we use artificial wombs in the future?
previous qanda Article
How do we know that plastic bags take 500 years to decompose?
next qanda Article
Q&A Tabs

Temperature affects the way your brain works, and fever can produce waking hallucinations and vivid imagery as well as nightmares. Some people find that too much spicy food leads to nightmares,...

Ordinary glass absorbs 97 per cent of the UVB rays that cause sunburn and some skin cancers, and 37 per cent of the less harmful UVA radiation. This translates to a protection of about SPF30, so...

It’s called trypophobia and it’s not a fear of open man-holes or caves. Rather, it is the revulsion some experience when they look at asymmetric clusters of small holes, or dark spots...

No. The Coriolis force (a twisting force caused by the Earth's rotation) causes tornados and hurricanes, but on a smaller scale its effects are negligible. It is commonly believed that water goes...

It depends on the temperature of the water. In cold water, the bacterial action that causes a body to bloat with gas may be so slowed that the body stays on the seabed. The skin will absorb water...

All female mammals have a clitoris, the sole purpose of which is to react to sexual stimulation, and presumably this stimulation has evolved to be pleasurable for most species. But establishing...

To create a sound, we have to set matter - whether it's a gas like air, a liquid or even a solid material - in regular motion, creating a wave of specific frequencies, which we hear as a sound of...

Mirrors don’t reverse left and right either – that’s just our interpretation of what happens. Your reflection in the mirror is actually reversed front to back – if you have...

Discovered by an American student named Gary Flandro in the mid-1960s, the slingshot manoeuvre usually involves spacecraft briefly 'coat-tailing' a planet orbiting the Sun, extracting some of the...

The ice disappears because the wind blows away water molecules that have evaporated or 'sublimed' from the ice, so the ice slowly shrinks in size. The molecules that escape are those with the...