How does washing up liquid work-?

i need a detailed explanation as it is for school. I would like resources as that would be best for me --thanks
Answers:
Washing up liquid is mainly needed to disperse grease and keep it in suspension in the water. It is able to do this because the detergent molecule has a 'tail' that doesn't like water and a 'head' that does. As the grease is broken into small droplets (by agitating the water) the water hating 'tails' of the detergent molecules bury themselves in the grease with the water loving 'heads' sticking out into the water. As there is a slight charge on these 'heads' the droplets are kept apart and a weak emulsion is made. If there is not enough detergent used all the bubbles (foam) disappears. The detergent molecules that can't find grease to attach to form balls (called mycells) with the tails pointing inwards.
why don't you look it up yourself on google?
your basic washing up liquid breaks up grease and it gives of a pleasant smell.

try washing your dishes without it. I'll only say one word "YUK"
Washing up liquid is a detergent used to assist in dishwashing. It is usually a highly-foaming mixture of surfactants with low skin irritation, and is primarily used for hand washing of glasses, plates, cutlery and cooking utensils in a sink or bowl.

Popular brands include Fairy Liquid (made by Procter & Gamble, invented by Harry Galleymore in the 1950s on the basis of lanolin-friendly detergents) and Cif.

In the United States, where the detergent is commonly known as "dishwashing soap", "dishwashing liquid" or simply "dish soap," popular brands include Palmolive, made by the Colgate-Palmolive Company, and Dawn, Joy, and Ivory, all made by Procter & Gamble.

There is an informal debate between Americans and Britons about whether one should rinse dishes after washing them with washing-up liquid (the former tend to rinse, and the latter do not).[1]

A dilute mixture of washing up liquid with water is often used when blowing soap bubbles.
Washing up liquid contains detergent, and that breaks up the molecular bond that holds fats together. The fats lift off the dishes and form an emulsion in the hot water - thats a mix of oil and water.
I don't know how the chemistry works but that should give you a starting point if no one else answers.
The technical term for it is emulsification I think.dragging back memories of GCSE science!
SURFace ACTing AgeNTS blah blah, Carbon chains attach to grease blah blah, ionic ends dissolve in water blah.
I'll get back to you on this one - need to ask the wife!
Ask Jeevs
just buy some and use it you willl be surprised how clean it gets things
have you tried wikipedia? In America they call it dish detergent, try doing a google search or wikipedia search on dish detergent, see if it comes up with anything.

Good luck with the school project.
Washing up liquid is a surfactant - meaning it breaks up surface tension of liquids and solids and allows them to dissolve more freely in water. Normally, water and oil do not mix because of the surface tension, but when you add a soap it breaks up the tension of the oil allowing it to mix more readily with water. This is why dishes, clothes and even our skin gets clean after using soap - all the oil, dirt and other material is able to dissolve in the water we use to wash up and leaves it cleaner.
You have some good answers above but to help with a school presentation, sketch the detergent molecule like a tadpole with a tail that attaches itself to the water molecule and a head that bites into the dirt. Then when you wash away the foam, the heads have grabbed ll the dirt and won't let go while the tails have grabbed the water and drag the head with the dirt down the drain.