What is a detergent?!
*"A homogeneous mixture that aids in the removal of dirt!"*

The hydrocarbons and ionic compounds found in detergents attack the oil and dirt and bring them to the surface, so they can be easily washed away in the presence of water.

What makes it different from soap?
The products used in soap can be found in nature, while the products used in detergents are mostly synthetic.

Well, what's it got to do with Chemistry??
Water and oil will never mix! Why? Because water is polar and oil is not. Therefore, for the two to be connected, a micelle is needed. In this case, the micelle is detergent. Detergent has a polar hydrophilic head, and a nonpolar hydrophobic tail, so it attracts both the water and the oil. The detergent molecule will trap the oil molecule, so when it is rinsed off, the oil leaves with the detergent instead of being trapped on the fabric/dish/etc...
What is a micelle? http://chemistryfall2009.wikispaces.com/Cell+membranes
external image 532px-micelle_scheme-ensvg.png

Describe the influence of intermolecular forces on the physical and chemical properties of covalent compounds.
Detergent.img- "http://www.supergreenme.com/data/images/6/500x333_Detergent.jpg"
Micelle.img- "http://politicook.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/532px-micelle_scheme-ensvg.png"
"detergent."The Columbia Encyclopedia. 6th ed. Columbia University Press, 2000. 10904.General OneFile. Web. 15 Nov. 2009. http://find.galegroup.com/gps/start.do?prodId=IPS&userGroupName=jeff53810.

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