1. A detergent is a compound, or a mixture of compounds, intended to assist cleaning.
  2. Detergent are usually made from synthetic subtances.
  3. Example of detergents are sodium alkyl sulphate and sodium alkylbenzene sulphonate.

The Structure of a Detergent Molecule

  1. The basic structure of the detergent molecule is similar in nature to a soaps. It will dissolve in water to produce sodium ion (Na+) and detergent ions.
  2. A detergent ion consists of two parts which are known as the hydrophilic part and the hydrophilics part.
  3. The hydrophilic part consist of the sulphate group (-OSO3) or the sulphonate group (-SO3) which is readily dissolves in water but does not dissolve in oil.
  4. The tail is a long hydrocarbon chain which is hydrophobic in nature and does not dissolve in water but dissolves readily in oil.

Cleaning Action of Detergent

  1. Like the ion of soap, detergent ions consist of two parts, the hydrophobic part and the hydrophilic part.
  2. Therefore, detergent can also act as emulsifying agent and wetting agent as soap, in a cleaning action.