How does soap cleanse you?

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Soap can clean well because it can work as an emulsifier. Emulsifiers can mix a liquid into another unmixable liquid. For example, naturally, oil cannot be mixed with water, but soap can mix oil or dirt in the water, and thus it can be removed from our hands or clothes or other surfaces.


Cleanliness gives a new look to everything. Be it your body or your car, it’s likeable only when it’s clean. If you’re a “neat freak”, you must admit that soap is one of the best creations of mankind. Although, have you ever wondered how soap cleans things up? The process of cleaning any substance by soap is not known to most people. There’s very interesting science behind it which you wouldn’t want to miss knowing.


The need to cleansing

Now the question is what makes a substance unclean? The exposure of anything to pollutants results in it attaching to oils, dirt, dust, and bacteria etc. which are too sticky and inseparable. To make the surface free of these unwanted particles, soap uses its molecules to attract the oil and attach it to itself. Now that the impurities are attached to the soap they are rinsed away and drained with the soap.

How soap functions

Soap is an emulsifying agent. It comprises certain molecules each having a hydrocarbon chain, which rid a substance of the oil that carries dirt and impurities.

To simplify it further, these molecules have two ends:

  • Hydrophobic- water repellant ends of molecules
  • Hydrophilic- water loving ends of molecules


Now the hydrophobic ends are all scared of water. They rather want to attach to the oil on a surface forming an oil drop. The hydrophilic ends at the same time attach to the water. The oil drops in turn separate from the surface and suspend in the water, i.e. they don’t mix with the water resulting in leaving the surface clear of the dirt and grease.  Following this, the surface is rinsed away, the foam is washed away and tada! You’re all clean and set!

What is soap made of?

Now that you know how soap cleanses you, wouldn’t you want to find out what it is made of? It’s too simple and can be made by you as well, provided you’ve got the things required to make it. Well, you just need potassium and sodium fatty acids. Yes, soaps are made of nothing but fats. This calls for a process which is called “saponification”, (say “sapo not soapo”).

Quick facts about soap:

  • Soap is made of fatty acids, primarily potassium and sodium.
  • Soaps are not used only for cleaning purposes but also as lubricants.
  • Soap is a surfactant. Surfactants are substances that while dissolving in any liquid minimize its surface tension. Surface tension is the natural force carried by a liquid. This force keeps its surface packed. And a soap molecule reduces this force to make space for itself to attack the oil, dirt and grease.

History of soaps

That’s enough information about soaps. But wait! Who invented it? That’s another piece of information which you must know. Do you know who Babylonians were? They existed somewhere around 2800 B.C. They created soap out of animal fats. The main purpose behind the invention back in that time was wool and cotton washing. Interestingly, Arabs made soaps from vegetable products. Romans, Greeks and Egyptians also worked on soaps in their own different ways.

This was all about the soap history. If you think there’s more to add then feel free to let us know in the comments below. Happy cleaning!

Key Statistics:

  • As per All Portable Sinks- A Brentpoint Company, only about 5% people wash hands properly.
  • Most of the people wash hands for only 6 seconds.
  • About 33% people wash hands without soap.
  • Around 80% of the communicable diseases are spread over by touch.
  • If we wash our hands properly with soap diarrhea rates can be reduced by 40% and the rates of respiratory infections by about 20%.
  • Around 20% people wash hands before making food and about 39% before having food.
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