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My question is a simple one, as I do not have the equipment to hand to test it.

At standard UK household voltage, would it be reasonable to assume that, if covered in a film of washing up liquid, a plug could potentially short circuit and trip the house's breakers?

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    $\begingroup$ Yes. In all likelihood because it contains water and ions, they make it a good conductor. $\endgroup$
    – Gert
    Jan 17, 2017 at 14:24
  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by "covered in a film"? Is there a continous film between the two main prongs of the plug when the plug is plugged in? If you just dip in in liquid and then plug it in, the situation is not clear. $\endgroup$
    – nasu
    Aug 3, 2021 at 2:20

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Questions like this generally disturb me as I have visions of the poster or another reader attempting a "simple home experiment" with their household electricity. Are we all intelligent enough to "DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME" ?

When it comes to household electrics you should really assume that anything whatsoever inside a plug, other than it's normal contents of the bits of the plug and air, COULD cause a problem.

Getting more scientific I wouldn't be surprised if I tested 4 different brands of washing up liquid to find one or more quite conductive and also one or more quite a good insulator. It would all depend on the chemical composition, including, I suspect , particularly how much H2O the manufacturers have added/used in it. Those interested in doing experiments could safely test / measure resistance under low voltage conditions with a bog-standard home multimeter applied to a cupful of the liquid in question (No mains plugs or mains voltages involved !). I'd probably stick the probes of my 500V/1000V megger in it but I know what I am doing with these things.

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  • $\begingroup$ It was more to win an argument with my landlord over a repair bill. Asked on here so I didn't have to test it myself. $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2017 at 6:08
  • $\begingroup$ Why tripping the breakers requires a repair? It should be more than just this. The job of the berakers is to be tripped and so to protect the circuit. I assume that by "triping" you mean shutting off. $\endgroup$
    – nasu
    Aug 3, 2021 at 2:23

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