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I notice that saliva seems to clean well, much better than plain water. For example, tar spots on the car can be difficult to get off. I typically use really powerful solvents to get them off, like 95% acetone and things like that. Yet, saliva works too.

Why is this?

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  • $\begingroup$ Saliva has proteins which act like mild surfactants (detergent effect) and of course mechanical abrasion helps to physically dislodge the spots. $\endgroup$ – M. Farooq Nov 24 '19 at 23:27
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Saliva has alpha-amylase (ptyalin), which hydrolyzes carbohydrates (so starch starts to taste sweet in just a few seconds), kallikrein, an enzyme that breaks down protein, and lingual lipase, which helps disintegrates fats (lipids).

So next time you clean off a splattered insect from your wind-screen (windshield, should you prefer), think of it as external digestion, as practiced by flies and by starfish. Or perhaps you might not want to consider that thought...

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