- Synthetic detergents can be made from petrochemicals, fats and oils.
- Synthetic detergent molecules, like soap molecules, generally consist of a hydrophilic head and a hydrophobic tail.
- The hydrophobic, long hydrocarbon chain tail of the detergent molecule is attracted to particles of oil or grease by dispersion forces (London forces or Weak Intermolecular Forces).
- The hydrophilic, charged or polar head of the detergent molecule is attracted to water molecules.
- Synthetic detergents are less sensitive to the effects of calcium and magnesium ions in hard water.
- A number of additives are used to enhance the cleaning ability of detergents.
- Branched-chain synthetic detergents are far less biodegradable than continuous-chain synthetic detergents.