splashing water

Oops – you spilled ketchup on your T-shirt at dinner. And your plate is also very dirty. To wash the T-shirt, you need detergent. And you can use dishwashing detergent to clean the plate. Both cleaning products contain surfactants, also known as cleansing substances. So how do these surfactants work? What do they do to the water and the dirt? These two short experiments will show you what effect surfactants have. 

You will need

  • Two screw-top jars (empty jam jars)
  • Glass bowl 
  • One teaspoon tip of soot (e.g., abrasion from a piece of coal)
  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Thumbtacks
  • Water 

Let’s get started!

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