Soap Facts



  • Some soap is natural; all detergents are synthetic.
  • All soaps and detergents clean with a ‘surfactant.
  • Surfactants are molecules that attach themselves to particles of dirt on dirty surfaces and lift them away.
  • Surfactants work because one part of them is hydrophilic (attracted to water) and the other is hydrophobic (repelled by water).
  • The hydrophobic tail of a surfactant digs its way into the dirt; the other tail is drawn into the water.
  • Surfactant molecules in soap lift dirt off dirty surfaces.
  • Soaps increase water’s ability to make things wet by reducing the surface tension of the water.
  • Soap is made from animal fats or vegetable oil combined with chemicals called alkalis, such as sodium or potassium hydroxide.
  • Most soap includes perfumes, colors and germicides (germ-killers) as well as a surfactant.
  • The Romans used soap over 2000 years ago.
  • Detergents were invented in 1916 by German chemist, Fritz Gunther.