Wash Your Blues Away - With Chemistry!

Scrubbing Bubbles and KABOOM cleaners

The blue to white color change that occurs in the foam of Scrubbing Bubbles or KABOOM Brand cleaners has always fascinated me.  Many times I have wondered how this color change takes place. Inspired by this year’s theme for National Chemistry Week (Chemistry Colors Our World!), I recently carried out some investigations to discern how this mysterious color change takes place. You can view some of my explorations in the video below:


What do you think my proposed explanation for how the color change takes place? Do you have any suggestions for further inquiries?

I plan on performing some of these experiments for my students (and during outreach events) during National Chemistry Week (NCW) this year. If you’d like a great NCW-themed challenge, try to explain how the purple-to-green color change occurs in this cleaner. If you decipher how this occurs, be sure to let me know. My students and I will be working on this problem, too! 



General Safety

For Laboratory Work: Please refer to the ACS Guidelines for Chemical Laboratory Safety in Secondary Schools (2016).  

For Demonstrations: Please refer to the ACS Division of Chemical Education Safety Guidelines for Chemical Demonstrations.

Other Safety resources

RAMP: Recognize hazards; Assess the risks of hazards; Minimize the risks of hazards; Prepare for emergencies


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Comments 4

Sabrina Sibley | Fri, 01/18/2019 - 14:17

This is an excellent demo.  I'd like to have my students perform this for themselves as in inquiry.  Do you already have a write-up for this?

Tom Kuntzleman's picture
Tom Kuntzleman | Sun, 01/20/2019 - 20:16

Hi Sabrina:

Thank you for your question. I do not have a student sheet or instructor information written up for this activity. However, if you have any questions about how to carry out any experiments you see in the video, just let me know and I will be happy to answer them. I have also conducted additional experiments using these cleaners; you can find these additional experiments here and here.

Let me know if you try these experiments with your students. I'd love to hear how it works out for you and your students. 

Sabrina Sibley | Wed, 03/27/2019 - 13:01

My students experimented with this & it turned out great!  I think they were more fascinated with the color-changing cleaner though (not to mention that they always have a great time playing with dry ice)!

Tom Kuntzleman's picture
Tom Kuntzleman | Thu, 03/28/2019 - 07:59

Hi Sabrina, thank you so much for letting me know that you and your students tried out this experiment and also enjoyed it! Let me know if you and your students learn anything new and interesting when carrying out investigations with these cleaners. Happy experimenting!