The Effect of Detergent on Plant Growth

Detergents have been known to have detrimental effect on the plants health and growth. The chemical components in the detergents disturb the internal balance of the plants and the various processes in them like water intake and nutrients absorption, photosynthesis and growth etc. As a science experiment, it can turn out to be quiet interesting and informative when you evaluate the effect of various detergents on plants. In addition to that, presenting this idea in your science fair project could another brilliant idea to show your botanical capabilities.

Estimated Experiment Time: one week

Things Required:

– 4 different types of detergents like laundry soap, dish soap, hand soap and bath soap
– 5 small plants – inexpensive and separately potted
– 1-2 gallons of distilled water
– Measuring cup
– 1 teaspoon
– Ruler
– Journal or notebook


  • 1

    First of all visit your nearest plant nursery and select 5 separately potted small plants. The success of your experiment depends on the selected plant. So make sure that the all of the selected plants are healthy and green.

  • 2

    Take the selected potted plant home and label them as A, B, C, D and E.

  • 3

    Take four medium bowls or recycle cans and prepare the detergent solutions for the experiments. Mix 1 teaspoon of finely crushed laundry soap and ¼ cup of water in one pot or bowl. Stir it until the laundry soap dissolves completely, forming a foamy solution. Take another bowl or pot and mix up ¼ cup of water and 1 teaspoon of dish soap in it, stirring until both ingredients incorporate well. Repeat the same procedure with the hand and bath soap.

  • 4

    Now get back to the potted plants and arrange them in one corner of your house that receives proper sunlight. Keep proper distance among the plants.

  • 5

    Your equipments are all set to go. Inspect the plants on daily basis and record the all the changes happening to the plants. Make sure to water the plants plant at the same time per day. Water plant A with distilled water, plant B with dish soap solution, plant C with hand soap solution, plant D with dish soap solution and plant E with bath soap solution. Water the experimental plants for seven consecutive days.

    Note: Repeat step 3 to make new detergent solutions per day.

  • 6

    Results: Chances are quiet high that plant B, C, D and E will either wither or even die due to receiving toxic chemical in the form of detergent solutions. The detergents solutions basically suffocate the plants and prevent them from absorbing fresh oxygen and water. On the other hand, you will observe a nice improvement in the height, growth and health of Plant A as it was receiving clean water and proper sunlight. Hence it is proved that chemicals have adverse effect on the health and growth of plants.

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