Bubbles! Does more foam make your dishes cleaner?


What do you think? Does more foam equal cleaner dishes?

Some people just love to hand wash their dishes with an enormous pile of bubbles. And some people prefer just a little bit of soap with their dish washing water. But is one of those options better than the other? Whether you are team ‘foam’ or ‘no-foam’, this article could definitely settle some differences at home about the amount of dish soap to use!


First we’ll get into the basics: the chemistry of foam. Foam consists of small air bubbles. Those air bubbles usually arise when you mix water with air. Like when you run a bath and bubbles pop up around the stream of water. These bubbles usually disappear in a blink but when you add soap, the bubbles grow and stick around longer. This is because of surfactants. Dish soap is made of these surfactants. Those chemicals are actually responsible for cleaning your dishes. Surfactant chemicals have two sides; one of those sides likes to attach itself to water. The other side is water repellent and nestles itself in the grease on your dishes. That way, the grease comes off your plates and sticks to the water instead.

More bubbles!

But how do these surfactants cause bubbles? Well, these chemicals add a little protective layer to your bubbles, making them less likely to pop. That is why dish soap results in a whole lot of bubbles! But does this equal more cleanliness? According to Wesley Browne, a professor in molecular chemistry interviewed by Quest magazine, the foam itself doesn’t serve any purpose. The only thing that more bubbles indicates, is that there are more free surfactants in the water. This means that not all soap chemicals have attached themselves to grease yet. So maybe that’s why, when you have a lot of very greasy dishes, the foam eventually disappears!

The verdict

Foam does not equal cleanliness. That might be hard to hear for the people who just love foam. But more foam doesn’t hurt either. So if you like to do your dishes with lots of foam, then you do you! You might have to buy more dish soap than your no-foam peers but at least you’ll have a good time while doing the dishes!

Also read: This tip will help you save money on dishwasher tablets

Source: Quest | Image: Unsplash, Matthew Tkocz