Why are Some Stains Harder to Get Out than Others?

In today’s society, even the simplest products have a good deal of science behind them. To this end, all the cleaning products we know and enjoy were at one time developed by scientists. Even with so many products at our disposal, people wrestle with the fact that some stains are difficult to remove.  

Research and development teams study stains on a molecular level to better understand how they work. By gaining a clearer picture of the science behind stains, companies like Charlie’s Soaps have created products to meet the challenges of even the worst blemishes. 

To help you get your clothing as clean as possible, we wanted to walk you through this brief exploration into why some stains are harder to get out than others. 


The Science of Stains 

To create laundry detergents, scientists work diligently to understand how stains work on a molecular level. In a strange way, they actually “reverse engineer” the worst stains to make cleaning supplies that match even the most challenging jobs. 

In studying how stains work, scientists have uncovered several different types of stains: 


  • Non-covalent bond: standard stain where a colored compound marks a piece of clothing without a chemical bond. Non-covalent bond stains are some of the easiest to wash. 


  • Covalent bond: strong stain where a chemical bond occurs between the colored compound and piece of clothing. Covalent bond stains are more difficult to clean and require specific detergents


  • Chemical reaction: stain where the original pigment actually undergoes a chemical reaction that results in a new color. Spilling bleach on a piece of clothing is an example of a chemical reaction. Chemical reaction stains are impossible to remove. 

What Do Molecules Have to Do with Cleaning? 

The science behind laundry detergents essentially boils down to molecules. 

When you put a piece of clothing “in the wash,” you initiate a process where molecules react with one another. As your washing machine mixes clothes, water, and detergent, the molecules in the detergent are attracted to the molecules in stains. The motion of your washing machine then acts to help pull stains out of clothing. In the end, the combination of detergent, water, and movement creates the perfect environment to clean clothing. 

While we understand what it takes to wash clothes effectively, laundry detergents still have difficulty getting certain items clean. This difficulty occurs when the molecules in a stain are larger than the molecules in a detergent, or when there are no active spots on a stain for a detergent to connect with it. When such challenges arise, specific detergents are required for the job.


What Are Surfactants? 

Surfactants are essential ingredients in soap that work to help remove the most difficult stains. Surfactants allow water to penetrate deep into fabrics to loosen even the worst stains. 

The main thing to remember about surfactants is that they attach to both stain molecules and water molecules. In doing so, they can loosen up difficult blemishes where the molecules of stains are larger than those of the detergent. When combined with the agitation within a washing machine, surfactants allow the water and detergent to lift the stain from the piece of clothing. 

Lucky for health-conscious consumers, many surfactants are considered a natural ingredient. Surfactants are essential ingredients in many organic soaps and cosmetics.


The Charlie’s Soap Difference 

Charlie’s Soap Laundry Detergent works differently than most other detergents. Using surfactants, our detergents penetrate deep into fabrics to lift even the heaviest stains. Once Charlie’s Soap has loosened the stains, it allows all the dirt and grime to be effortlessly washed out with the rinse cycle. 

Most laundry detergents today use surfactants in their formulas. However, many of them also use harsh additives like bleaches, brighteners, fragrances, and softeners. While such unnatural additives will make clothing feel clean and smell good, they don’t actually get your stuff any cleaner. In fact, most laundry detergents today just mask dirt and grime with perfumes and chemicals.

Charlie’s Soap is formulated by following good science and smart chemistry. Even more, we keep environmental awareness at the forefront of everything we do. 


Contact Charlie’s Soap with Questions 

The team at Charlie’s Soap is proud to offer natural cleaning products that are also highly effective. 

Contact Us to learn more about our product offerings and the science behind cleaning. 

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