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Full STEAM Ahead Day

How does the cleaning process work?

Today, which just happens to be STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) Day and the perfect time to ask that question! And we have the answer at ExplorationClean.org! Created for the big minds of little kids but fun for everyone, this site talks about the science behind the ingredients in cleaning products, including:

  • Surfactants – Water has surface tension, which can cause it to bead on top of a fabric instead of soaking in. Surfactants (or surface active agents) help the water spread out and wet the surface so it can be cleaned.
  • Builders – Water often has minerals dissolved in that aren’t a problem unless you’re trying to clean. Builders react with those minerals to clear the way for surfactants to do their job.
  • Solvents – Think about making chocolate milk – you add chocolate to milk and stir. The milk in this example is the solvent, it dissolved the chocolate to create a smooth, chocolatey drink.  The solvents in cleaning products keep all ingredients mixed and ready to use.
  • Enzymes – Food and grease stains can be some of the hardest to get out, but enzymes come to the rescue! Different enzymes are attracted to different types of stains and can break it down into pieces that can be washed away.
  • Fragrances – Who wants to be surrounded by bad smells? Fragrance is an ingredient in some products that can come from essential oils or other sources and is there to make you say “ahhhh.”
  • And more – Learn about all the ingredients at ExplorationClean.org!

When you visit the site, be sure to check out the STEM Toolbox. You’ll find an activity to try at home or at school where you can use sand art to create your own detergent formula. Then, you can compare it to an actual formula and see how you did.

While learning about the science and mechanics of cleaning, don’t forget to put the A in STEAM! Print off some of our clean hands fact sheets that include coloring pages that can help get the creativity flowing. Share with chirp@cleaninginstitute.org because we’d love to see the results!

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