Stain Lab

Question: Do home remedies work as well as detergents?

Our hypothesis was that the home treatment (in this case, Germ-X) would not outperform either of the detergents used.

Our Procedure

1. Stain five pieces of cloth with grape jelly.

2. Add 20mL of treatment to 300mL of cold water. Insert cloth to be tested.

3. Shake in a circular motion for thirty seconds.

4. Rinse cloth under cold water for thirty seconds.

5. Hang cloth to dry overnight.

Big image
Pictured above is our samples after being left to dry.

(From left to right: Tide, Sun, Water, Germ-X, no treatment)


Germ-X left a strange, discolored residue of sorts on the cloth, but interestingly so did Tide. Though it's hard to see, the water-only cloth is mostly clear with only a few spots left. The Sun did best of all, erasing all marks of the grape jelly. The one with no treatment, our control, was unsurprisingly the most stained one by far.


Because of the residue, it's clear that Germ-X is not made of the same materials as other detergents, but Tide left a similar residue, strangely enough. An inference that could be drawn from this is that both Tide and Germ-X have a different molecular makeup/are made differently than Sun.


The experiment definitely didn't turn out the way we expected. Germ-X and Tide both erased all stains, but left a different stain of their own in that strange residue. Sun, meanwhile, erased all marks without the residue. It's safe to say that detergent does perform better than home treatments like Germ-X, but not all detergents do that well.

Now What?

If we were to explore this further, I think we would test the question: Would using different kinds of stains affect our results?


As you know, water is "polar," making it attract with other polar substances, which is essentially all water-based materials. Oils and waxes are nonpolar and refuse to attract to these polar molecules and vice versa, hence the phrase "like dissolves like" referring to polarity. Soap is an interesting molecule because it has a polar end and a nonpolar end because it's such a large molecule. Because of this, it's used to clean. Soap's nonpolar end is attracted to gunk like oils on our skin, and then the soap's polar end lets the molecule, with oil attached, be washed away by water.