(Chemistry for ages 5+)
Have you ever stained your favorite shirt, blanket, or stuffed animal only to be amazed at how clean it was when it came out of the washing machine? What sort of magic even made that possible?
Bleach is a special chemical that is found in most laundry detergents, and plays a big role in whitening clothes and fighting stains. The above video shows a simple activity that allows you to watch how bleach works. Here’s how you do it:
2 clear cups
Food coloring (any color)
Adult supervision (Adult supervision at all times please)
- Start by filling one of your clear cups about ¾ of the way full of water.
- Next, add a couple of drops of food coloring to the water and stir it in.
- Add 2-4 tablespoons of bleach to your other clear cup.
- Mix the bleach into the water and keep mixing by pouring back and forth between the 2 clear cups.
- After 5-6 mixes, leave the mixture undisturbed for several minutes. What do you notice over time? How long does it take for the dye to disappear?
Bleach is a chemical known as an oxidizing agent, which forces a chemical change in other compounds, like stains. Basically, when the bleach encounters the stain molecule, it “steals” electrons (teeny, tiny parts of the stain molecule) and changes the whole structure of the stain, eventually breaking it down entirely.