This seminar was carried out with the sole aim of knowing the effects of the action of soap and detergent on soil/dirty substance during washing. It was found out that soap and detergent are water – soluble sodium or potassium salt of fatly acids respectively which enhance the cleansing action of water in solution.

They cleans by acting as an emulsifier. Basically allow soil and water to mix so that oily grime can be removed during rinsing. Soap and detergent have similar molecular structure, having carrboxylate group known as hydrophilic (water loving) and hydrocarbon chain end called hydrophobic ( water hating ).in an emulsion of oil in water, the molecules are oriented around the oil droplet with the hydrocarbon chain dissolved in the oil and carboxylate group in the water.

The test carried out ascertain the effect of these soap and detergent on soil/ dirty substance where the use of launder meter test, the use of domestic washing test. The result from the test revealed that soap and detergent are excellent cleanser.

Although soap is an excellent cleanser, but cannot have up to 100% cleansing action in water due to some factors such as hardness of water reduce the effectiveness of soap by forming insoluble salt when dissolved in hard water.

The effect of this hardness of water could be overcome by precipitation softening and most wildly the introduction of soapless detergent for demostic and laundry purpose which are not affected by hard water because they form magnesium and calcium salt that are soluble in water.




Brief history of the study

Aim/ objective of the study



How soap and detergent works

Surfactant and its effect dirt removal

The action or soap / detergent on dirt

Comparing result with findings

Water hardness effects

Washing test practical choice of soap for industrial process

Difference between soap and detergent








        When you are young “bath time” is another word  torture and    a harmless block of soap can seem like an offensive weapon. Fortunately, most of us soon grow out of that little problem and learn to recognizes soap and water for what they are. We use soap and detergent in our daily life to wash our hands body and to clean our clothes without knowing how it works.

        Soap and detergent are substances used to enhance the cleaning action of water. They cleans by acting as an emulsifier which penetrates and breaks up the only file that bind direct particles, and wetting agent which help them to float off. They are similar in their chemical properties. However, there is a significant difference between them, which soaps are produced from natural products and detergent  are synthetic, or man – made .

        Soaps and detergents are used for cleaning because pure water only can’t remove oily, organic soiling. Basically, soap allows oil and water to mix so that oily grime can be removed during rinsing. Detergents were developed in response to the shortage of the animal and vegetable fats used to make soap during World War 1 and world war 11. Detergents are primarily surfactants, which could be produced easily from  petrochemicals. Surfactants lower the surface tension of water, essentially making it “wetter” so that is less likely  to stick to itself and more likely to interact with oil and  grease.

        For most practical purposes, the term soap (soap detergent) refers to any water soluble salt of a fatly acid. When this salt of fatly acid solution is applied to grease coated piece of fabric the soap  molecule first approach the grease spot, at the interphase of grease and water, the hydrophobic tail of the soap particles  dissolved    in grease while the hydrophilic end dissolve in water the water molecular attract the polar  ionic heads of the soap molecules, this action helps to lift the grease spots upward, enabling more is emulsified and on rinsing the fabric, the grease is removed.

        In washing woven cotton fabric contains fibers surface, the detergent solution must come into content with all these fibers for this cleansing action to take place, the lowered interfacial tension assisted this soaking also promote cleaning by penetration of the internal channels of many kinds of fiber by water. This displaces the air through  the  capillaries radiating to the surfaces of the fabric. Air so displaced has been observed to form bubbles inside oil globules formed, helping to detach them from the fabric. If the bath had sufficient wetting power to displace air, detergency is achieved. Here, the term “ wetting” however mean  the displacement of one liquid by another. For instance the oil being displaced by water from the surface of a solid in cleaning of fabric is a significant example of displacement.


        The earliest recorded evidence of the production of soap like materials dates back to around 2008 Bc in Ancient   Babylon. In the reign of Nabonidus (556 – 539 BCE) a recipe for soap consisted of uhulu (ashes) cypress (oil ) and sesame (seed oil) “ for washing the stones for the servant girls”. A formula for soap consisting of water, alkali and cassia oil was written on a Babylonian day tablet around 2200 Bc.

        The Ebers papyrus (Egypt, 1550 Bc) indicates that ancient Egyptians bathed regularly and combined animal and  vegetable  oils with alkaline satts to create a soap- like substance. Egyptain documents mention that a soap- like substance was used in the preparation of wool for weaving.

        In roman history, the word soap, latin for Soap, First a appear in Pliny the  Elders of Historian Naturalis which discusses the manufacture of soap from fellow and ashes, but the only use he mentions rather disapproving that the men of the Gauls and Germans were more likely to use it then their females center parts.


        The aim / objective of the study ( the effects of action of detergent and soap on soil/ dirty substances during washing) apply to chemical engineering is to know the working principle of soap and detergent (how soap and detergent works) on soil / dirty substance during washing .


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