The purpose of this experiment was to determine which laundry detergent
was most effective in removing stains from white cotton fabric.
I became interested in this idea when I was trying to get a dirt stain
out of my shirt. I wanted to know which laundry detergent would get
the stain out the best. So I thought that I would take this opportunity
to find out which laundry detergent works best.
The information gained from this experiment could benefit many consumers
who would like to know which laundry detergent best removes stains.
My hypothesis was that the Oxi Clean detergent would be most effective,
and would take out most of the stain.
I based my hypothesis on recent studies that show Oxi Clean is a reliable
The constants in this study were:
The type of juice stain (cranberry juice, mustard, and black coffee).
The amounts of stain put onto each cloth.
The type of cloth (100% white cotton).
The washing cycle used to clean the cloth.
The amount of time being washed.
The temperature that the clothes are being washed in.
The speed that the clothes are being washed in.
The drying cycle.
The amount of different laundry detergents used per wash.
The colorimeter used to determine the whiteness in each piece of
cloth that has been washed.
The manipulated variable was the six different laundry detergents
used to determine which one would remove the stain the most effectively.
The responding variable was the amount of stain removed.
To measure the responding variable I used a colorimeter to determine
the whiteness value.
|| ITEM DESCRIPTION
||100% white cotton (10x10 cm squared)
||medium sized bowl
||measuring tubes in milliliters
1. Cut 10 pieces of 100% white cotton fabric that is 10 cm squared for
each detergent to be tested (Tide, Arm and Hammer, Era, Surf, Oxi Clean,
2. Label each piece of cloth with the type of detergent it is being
3. Then pour 2700 ml. of Concentrate cranberry juice, 2700 ml. of black
coffee, and 1200 ml. of mustard into a medium sized bowl.
4. Mix the juice, coffee, and mustard together with a large spatula
for two minutes.
5. Then put the 10 pieces of cloth into the mix.
6. Stir them around in the mix for 5 minutes with the spatula.
Make sure the mix has soaked into the clothes.
7. Take them out and then let them dry hanging up.
8. Put 300 ml. of one detergent into the washing machine.
9. Put the 10 stained pieces of cloth into the washing machine.
10. Wash and rinse the pieces of cloth in cold water in the regular
11. Put the clothes into they dryer for 30 minutes or until they are
12. Repeat steps 2-11 using a different detergent and 10 new pieces
13. Repeat step 12 with all remaining detergents.
14. Once all of the detergents have been tested, go to Tree Top to use
the colorimeter to determine the whiteness of each piece of cloth.
The original purpose of this experiment was to determine which laundry
detergent was most effective on removing stains from 100% white cotton
The results of the experiment were that Oxi Clean is the best detergent
to take out stains.
See the table and graph
My hypothesis was that Oxi Clean would remove the stain better than
most of the other detergents.
The results indicate that this hypothesis should be correct.
Because of the results of this experiment, I wonder if testing less
expensive laundry detergents against more expensive detergents, which would
be most affective.
If I were to conduct this project again I would try to use a stain that
more people get on their clothing. I would also try to use laundry
detergents that are not as well known to people and test it to see how
well the product/products works.
Detergents, Soaps, and Cotton
Detergent and soap help keep us clean and healthy. Cotton is
an important fiber used widely in clothing and linens.
Soap is a substance used for washing many things. The basic ingredients
are water, lye, and fats or oils. Coloring dyes and fragrance oils
may be added if the producer would like color or fragrances in the soap.
Soap unfortunately combines with water hardness minerals. This combination
of materials forms a lime soap curd, a sticky yellow or white residue that
deposits on the washer or fabrics in the load that is being washed.
This performance problem has led to decreasing popularity of soaps.
Now only a few brands of laundry soap are available in two forms, powder
and bars. These materials are good for pre-treating heavy soiled
stains prior to laundering.
Detergents are substances that clean soiled surfaces, and usually are
synthetic. Different chemicals make up the detergents, including
a basic cleaning agent called a surfactant or surface-active agent.
Detergents have replaced soap in laundry. They perform over a broad
range of water hardness levels. There is considerable diversity among
laundry detergents. This product is classified by their general purpose.
Detergents are now available in powder and liquid forms.
Cotton is a fiber that is strong and durable, and still remains the
most miraculous fiber under the sun. Cotton has been used for over
8,000 years. It has provided thousands, or more, of very useful products.
Just one of those products is clothes. It is used to stuff mattresses
and cushions. Home furnishings are made with cotton materials.
In simple words, cotton is one of our main resources.
Phosphates are chemical compounds containing phosphorus. The salts
are derived from naturally occurring minerals. These minerals, which
are mined, refined, and purified are used in various applications.
They will originate from a naturally occurring phosphate which has been
mined from various places around the world.
Phosphate fertilizers do not need to be applied frequently. Plants
do not use all of the fertilizers applied. Large algae and water
life make use of the increased supply of the phosphates in fertilizer run-off.
The algae grows rapidly.
Phosphates are also used to make phosphoric acid. Phosphoric
acid is a colorless, odorless acid containing phosphorus. It is obtained
chiefly by the decomposition of phosphates. This is used in making
fertilizers as a reagent or thorphosphoric acid.
Lye is any strong alkaline solution used in making soap and in cleaning.
Sodium hydroxide is a type of lye.
An Alkaline substance contains alkali. Substances having
a pH factor of more than seven are alkaline. They have a relatively
low concentration of hydrogen ions, and are the opposite of an acid.
A surfactant consists of molecules that will attach themselves to dirt
particles in a soiled material. These molecules pull the particles
out of the material. Then, the molecules will hold them in suspension
in the washing water until they are rinsed away.
Hunter Reflectance Spectrophotometer (Colorimeter)
A Hunter Reflectance Spectrophotometer is also known as a colorimeter.
This machine measures color. A colorimeter uses A, L and B scales
to measure the color. The letters A and B are not the easiest things
to explain. The A scale measures green vs. red. The B scale measures
yellow vs. blue. A colorimeter has a hole at the top in which a light
shines through. This light measures the lightness and/or darkness
of the object you are testing. Before you can find the value of the
object you are testing you must first standardize the colorimeter.
Once you have standardized it, you place your object over the light and
then press the icon that is marked "scan". L=92.89 A= -0.93 and B=
0.43 are the values of the tile. You will not find anything whiter
than this tile.
"Alkaline" The World Book Encyclopedia Dictionary, 2002
"Cotton" The World Book Encyclopedia Dictionary, 2002
Feinstein, Myron E. "Detergents and Soap," The World Book
Knapp, Brian, BS, Ph D Nitrogen and Phosphorus Grolier Educational,
Sherman Turnpike Danbury, CT 06816 1997 pg.43
"Lye" The World Book Encyclopedia Dictionary, 2002
"Phosphates" The World Book Encyclopedia Dictionary, 2002
"Phosphoric" The World Book Encyclopedia Dictionary, 2002
"Phosphoric Acid" The World Book Encyclopedia Dictionary, 2002
"Soap" The World Book Encyclopedia Dictionary, 2002
SDA (Soap Detergent Association) "Laundry Facts," Microsoft Encarta
Encyclopedia Deluxe, 2002
"Textile" The World Book Encyclopedia Dictionary, 2002
"The Uses of Cotton" Microsoft Encarta Deluxe Internet, 2002
I would like to thank the following people:
Mr. Newkirk for correcting my journal and report, and giving me advice.
Mom for helping me get my materials, and hanging up each piece of
cloth that I stained, and for all of the support you gave me.
Dad for hanging up three lines of string so I would be able to hang
up the clothes. Also, for taking me to Tree Top so I could use the
Sue Graf for helping me use the colorimeter and helping me print and understand
Mrs. Helms for helping me with writing out my procedures and helping put
in my data into a computer.
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