If I throw tea on my curtain , it looks as if the curtain has absorbed tea molecules but is it true to say that since matter has spaces between them.So these tea molecules go into that space and stick with the molecules of curtain which makes them hard to be removed.

If I want to break bonds of tea molecules with curtain molecules,I rub it so that there is heat formed which break the bond of tea with the curtain.After some time , The colour does appear to go away.

Is it that it got stuck with the molecules of my hand after breaking with curtain molecules ? Is there any other way to completely remove that liquid from it ?

I did spill tea on my curtain but found it to be really fascinating.

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    $\begingroup$ "Tea Molecules", "Curtain Molecules"?? $\endgroup$
    – Hal
    Nov 23, 2020 at 19:06
  • $\begingroup$ Tea and curtain are made up of large no of molecules. $\endgroup$
    – srijan Sri
    Nov 23, 2020 at 19:08
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    $\begingroup$ Well if you just clean by friction certainly there is some transfer from the fibers to your hand. Perhaps some grease on our skin work as a kind of solvent. Stuff like that. The bonds you are referring to are not really hard chemical bonds, in the sense that every component retains its own structure and individuality. This sort of "adhesivity" involves various interactions of electrical nature or, in cases, the so called hydrogen bridge. The latter goes in the direction of a chemical bond. In all cases there must be an affinity between the stainer and the stained, as well as a specially... $\endgroup$
    – Alchimista
    Nov 23, 2020 at 19:30
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    $\begingroup$ ... tailored one in case of detergents. Search for detergents, soap, and their working mechanism. I am sure you'll get an insight about this kind of phenomena. Some dirt can really stain and happily stay where it landed. In this case one need some more chemistry, i.e. damaging a dye will cause the stain to disappear... $\endgroup$
    – Alchimista
    Nov 23, 2020 at 19:34
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    $\begingroup$ Well of course there is alway space. At first between fibers. Let me put it this way: there is much more surface than that of the curtain. $\endgroup$
    – Alchimista
    Nov 23, 2020 at 20:28

1 Answer 1


As stated above tea is made up of hundreds of different substances, add milk to it and it becomes a more complex mixture. Anyway, detergent formulation chemists and textile chemists study those questions that you are trying to ask. Similarly, the cloth used in making a curtain is also a chemically complex material.

Keep in mind the molecular dimensions. Molecules are really really small, so the spacing between the threads is like the whole universe to the molecules. So the space between the threads/fibers of the curtain do not matter at all.

Many food stains are compounds which absorb visible light. Usually such molecules have benzene rings as a part of their structure. There are several possibilities. The stain is chemically bonded to the fiber (worst case) or it is simply adsorbed. Tea has plenty of polyphenols which absorb light. One can use substances which destroy the visible light absorbing part of the molecule or the chromophores. As a result you see that the stain has gone away.

If you rubbed your tea stain and you saw some lightening of the stain, it could just be an optical illusion because the way threads are arranged and they reflected light. The heat generated from rubbing cannot make or break bonds, it is a very low temperature. Tea has already been boiled in water.


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