- A detergent is a compound, or a mixture of compounds, intended to assist cleaning.
- Detergent are usually made from synthetic subtances.
- Example of detergents are sodium alkyl sulphate and sodium alkylbenzene sulphonate.
The Structure of a Detergent Molecule
- 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.
- A detergent ion consists of two parts which are known as the hydrophilic part and the hydrophilics part.
- 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.
- 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
- Like the ion of soap, detergent ions consist of two parts, the hydrophobic part and the hydrophilic part.
- Therefore, detergent can also act as emulsifying agent and wetting agent as soap, in a cleaning action.