I love getting books for my son that explain basic germ prevention, hygiene and life skills. One day we were looking in the Children’s Science section of the library and saw the book, You Wouldn’t Want to Live Without Soap! by Alex Woolf and Mark Bergin.

This book gives children the history of soap, how it is made and why it works. We learned that before soap was invented, people used urine, incense smoke, clay, sand pumice, and ashes to clean themselves.

The pictures in this book are colorful and appealing to children. It will make your children laugh, say “ewwww”, and become more curious. The authors have included hands-on activities and tips that will further your child’s understanding of soap and its purpose.

One experiment we did involved ingredients you have in your home such as oil, water, and dishwashing liquid. It teaches kids why soap is a better cleaner than water by itself. My son learned that water and oil don’t mix, so washing with water only leaves most of the dirt behind.

I will show you the experiment and other discoveries we made.

Let’s Get Started!

Materials Needed:

  • Cooking Oil
  • Water
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Jars (2)

Directions:

  • Put cooking oil and water in a jar.
Cory pouring water in a jar.
Now he is mixing oil with water.
  • Screw on the lid and shake
  • The oil and water should separate into layers
The water and oil have separated.
  • Add drops of dishwashing liquid to the jar and shake again
We are adding dishwashing liquid to the oil and water.
  • This time it should make a cloudy mixture
  • Oil and water are no longer separate layers
Here is our cloudy mixture of water, oil, and dishwashing liquid.
  • Compare two jars.
    • One jar should have oil and water.
    • The second jar should have a mixture of oil, water, and dishwashing liquid.
The left jar has water, oil, and dishwashing liquid. The right jar has oil and water.

Why this Experiment Works and How Germs are Washed Away

  • Most dirt contains oil.
  • Oil and water do not mix so washing with water only leaves most dirt behind.
  • Soap binds to water, dirt, and oil.
  • The tail of soap molecules attach to oil.
  • The head of soap sticks to water.
  • When soapy water mixes with dirt, the soap molecules form tiny clusters called micelles.
  • When you wash your hands with soap, dirt mixed with oil from your skin is pulled inside the micelles, then rinsed away.
  • In the experiment, the soap molecules grabbed the oil and water making a cloudy mixture in the jar.

I hope this helps! Have fun with this experiment!

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20 thoughts on “Teach Kids to Prevent Germs with this Science Experiment

  1. Yes! With flu season upon us it’s so important to teach kids about germs and how to prevent getting sick. I love this activity.

  2. I love this experiment. We have been practicing hand hygiene with the kids preparing for an upcoming cruise. Maybe this experiment will help them understand why we need soap!!

  3. What a cute way to teach kids about germs and how to kill them! My little ones are always interested in the why and the how—this would be a nice way to give them that but more hands on!

    1. My son is curious like your children. I think your kids will like this experiment! Thank you for your comment.

  4. This is a great way to teach kids about germs and the importance of washing with soap to stay healthy and clean. I love this simple science experiment that can be done even with young children. What a great visual way to teach an important concept!

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