//Chemistry For Cleanliness: Detergent and Uses of Toiletries

Chemistry For Cleanliness: Detergent and Uses of Toiletries

Learning outcome:
  1. Detergent and its preparation
  2. Bad effects of using excess soap or detergent
  3. Use of Toiletries


Detergent is also a cleaning material like soap. It usually looks like powder and is also available in liquid form.

Preparation of Detergent

Sulphuric acid (H2SO4) reacts with lauryl alcohol (C12H26O) and produces lauryl hydrogen sulphate (C12H26SO4) and water. Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) reacts with this lauryl hydrogen sulphate (C12H26SO4) to produce sodium lauryl sulphate (C12H25SO4Na) and water (H2O). Here, sodium lauryl sulphate (C12H25SO4Na) is known as detergent.

Different types of materials are added to detergent in order to make it useable. Sodium Sulphate (Na2SO4) is added to detergent to give it the shape of the powder.

Related: Soap, Bleaching Powder and Glass Cleaner  

Bad Effects of Using Excess Soap or Detergent

We know there are alkali, glycerine, oil, fat etc. in the soap. When we use soap excessively, its alkali affects our hands. If clothes are washed at banks of ponds, pools or rivers, soap scum reacts with the oxygen dissolved in water and reduces the quantity of the dissolved oxygen. If the quantity of dissolved oxygen in water is reduced, aquatic plants and fish living in water will die. Thus excess uses of soap pollute the water.

Detergent contains trisodium phosphate (Na3PO4). This trisodium phosphate works as a good fertilizer for plants to live. As a result, the quantity/ growth of plants in the pond increase. As the plants use the dissolved oxygen in the water, fishes die out because of the lack of dissolved oxygen. Thus excess uses of detergent pollute water.

Related: Washing Soda and Toilet Cleaner

Use of Toiletries

People use toiletries (soap, cream, shampoo) to clean skin, retain the beauty of skin, clean hair and other purposes. As we know the pH of skin is between 4.8 and 5.5. That means skin has acidic nature, which prevents attack or origins of germs on our skin. Again, if the pH value of toiletries is more than 4.8 to 5.5 then its use reduces the acidity of skin which results in damage to skin beauty and an increase of germ attack. So there should be relevant in the pH values of toiletries and skin.

References: NCTB Books and Google