Hypochlorite ion (ClO-) lewis dot structure, molecular geometry, hybridization, polar or non-polar

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ClO- lewis structure molecular geometry

Hypochlorite is a monovalent inorganic anion also known as chlorine oxoanion have a chemical formula ClO-. It can make hypochlorite salts by combining them with a number of cations. These salts are handled in aqueous form because they mostly remain unstable in pure form.

In this tutorial, we will discuss Hypochlorite(ClO-) lewis structure, molecular geometry, polarity, hybridization, etc.

Hypochlorite salts are used as the bleaching agents, disinfection, and for water treatment. These salts formed when chlorine reacts with alkaline metals hydroxide.

⇒ Cl2 + 2 NaOH → NaCl + NaClO + H2O

Properties of Hypochlorite ion

  • It has a molar mass of 51.449 g/mol.
  • The conjugate acid of Hypochlorite ion is Hypochlorous acid(HClO).
  • It is soluble in water.
  • The Cl-O distance in ClO is 210 pm.
Name of MoleculeHypochlorite ion
Chemical formulaClO-
Molecular geometry of ClO-Linear
Electron geometry of ClO-Tetrahedral
Total Valence electron for ClO-14


How to draw lewis structure for ClO-(Hypochlorite)

Lewis structure represents the structure of atoms or molecules with their valence electron. It is a two-dimensional model that helps us to know, how many bond pairs and a lone pair a molecule contains.

Lewis structure of ClO- is very simple to draw as it has only two atoms(chlorine and oxygen), we have to just represent the valence electron around them and complete their octet.

Let’s see how to draw the ClO- lewis structure with a simple approach. 

Follow some steps for drawing the lewis dot structure of ClO-

1. Count total valence electron in ClO-

In the first step, we will determine how many valence electrons are available for drawing the lewis structure of ClO-. So, count the valence electron of each atom in ClO- then add them.

As chlorine belongs to the 17th periodic group and oxygen 16th. Hence, the valence electron for chlorine is 7 and for oxygen, it is 6.

⇒ Total number of the valence electrons in chlorine = 7

⇒ Total number of the valence electrons in oxygen = 6

∴ Total number of valence electrons available for drawing the lewis structure of ClO- = 7 + 6 + 1 = 14 valence electrons         [∴one oxygen atom, one chlorine, and one negative charge that count as a one valence electron]

Total number of valence electrons available for drawing the lewis structure of ClO-

2. Find the least electronegative atom and placed it at center

If you want then you can avoid this step to draw the lewis structure of simple diatomic molecules like ClO-, Cl2, Br2, etc. Because in these types of molecules, there are only two atoms present.

So, it doesn’t matter which atom is less or more electronegative as we have to place both atoms adjacent to each other.

There is no point in discussing the central atom of the diatomic molecule. Just place both atoms in a straight line.


3. Connect outer atoms to central atom with a single bond

Just avoid the term “outer atom” and “central atom” for drawing the ClO- lewis structure. And place the single bond between chlorine and oxygen atom.

Cl-O bond

Now count the valence electron in the above structure. Single bond means two-electron and in the above structure, only one single bond is used.

Hence, only 2 valence electrons are used in the above structure from 14 total valence electrons available for drawing the lewis structure of ClO-.

(14 – 2) = 12

We have left with 12 valence electrons more.

4. Place remaining valence electrons starting from outer atom first

Here we just need to place the remaining valence electron around oxygen and chlorine with the goal of filling their outer shell, hence achieving the octet.

So, put the valence electron around the chlorine and oxygen.

ClO- lewis structure

As you see in the above structure, we put 6 electrons around chlorine and oxygen, as each of them already sharing 2 electrons with the help of a single bond between them.

Hence, both the atoms(chlorine and oxygen) have 8 electrons in their outer shell, So, they completed their octet comfortably.

As we know, we had a total of 14 valence electrons available for the ClO- lewis structure, and in the above structure, we have used 14 valence electrons (12 dots + one single bond that contains two-electron).

(14 – 14) = 0 valence electrons

So, each atom in ClO- molecule completed octet, we also used all valence electrons that are available.

Now we just need to verify the stability of the above ClO- lewis structure with the formal charge concept.

5. Check the stability with the help of a formal charge concept

The structure with the formal charge close to zero or zero is the best and stable lewis structure.

We will check the formal charge on the 4th step structure.

⇒ Formal charge = (valence electrons – lone pair electrons –  1/2bonded pair electrons)

For chlorine atom

⇒ Valence electron of chlorine = 7

⇒ Lone pair electrons on chlorine = 6

⇒ Bonded pair electrons around chlorine = 2

F.C. on chlorine atom = (7 – 6 – 2/2) = 0

For oxygen atom

⇒ Valence electron of oxygen = 6

⇒ Lone pair electrons on oxygen = 6

⇒ Bonded pair electrons around oxygen = 2

F.C. on oxygen atom = (6 – 6 – 2/2) = -1

ClO- lewis structure with formal charges

Hence, the above structure is most stable as one atom contains 0 formal charges and another atom -1.

Also, the overall formal charge(-1) of the above structure is equal to the negative ion charge(-1) of ClO- molecule.

Best and stable Hypochlorite (ClO-) lewis structure

ClO- lewis structure

This is the best and stable lewis structure of ClO- with a minimal formal charge on each atom.

What is the molecular geometry of ClO-?

As we know, a ClO- molecule is formed from only two atoms, hence it is also called a diatomic molecule. “All diatomic molecules are linear, which is the simplest spatial arrangement of atoms.”

The molecular shape of ClO- is linear as both atoms(chlorine and oxygen) are situated in a straight line. Also, both atoms contain 3 lone pairs on each, and only one bond is present between them, hence, the repelling between lone pair – lone pair and lone pair-bond pair are equal from both sides.

Therefore, the final shape of ClO- becomes linear.

ClO- molecular geometry

The molecular shape of ClO- is linear and the geometry of the electron of it is tetrahedral according to the VSEPR theory. ClO- has an AXN3 generic formula.

Bonded atomsLone pairGeneric formulaHybridizationMolecular geometryElectron geometry
30AX3Sp²Trigonal planarTrigonal planar
21AX2NSp²BentTrigonal planar
12AXN2Sp²LinearTrigonal planar
31AX3NSp³Trigonal pyramidTetrahedral
32AX3N2Sp³dT-shapedTrigonal bipyramidal

Hybridization of ClO-

“Hybridization is defined as the concept of mixing two atomic orbitals with the same energy levels to give a degenerated new type of orbitals.”

To get the hybridization of ClO- molecule, just find the steric number of it.

The steric number is equal to the number of bonded attached to the central atom + lone pair on that central atom.

In the case of ClO- molecule, just let any of the atoms (chlorine or oxygen) as a central atom.

Let assume oxygen as the central atom-

∴ Steric number of ClO- = (Number of bonded atoms attached to oxygen + Lone pair on oxygen)

According to the lewis structure of ClO-, only one bonded atom is attached to oxygen and 3 lone pairs are present on it.

∴ Steric number of ClO- = (1 + 3) = 4

Steric numberHybridization

So, for a steric number of 4, we get the Sp3 hybridization on the oxygen atom in the ClO- molecule.

Hypochlorite ion polarity: is ClO- polar or nonpolar?

A polar molecule is formed by the unequal distribution of charges carried out on atoms of a molecule whereas non-polar molecules have an equal distribution of charges on atoms that helps to cancel out the dipole moment generated on them.

A polar molecule has some net dipole moment whereas a non-polar molecule has zero dipole moment.

Now the question arises, Is ClO- polar or nonpolar in nature? ClO- is a non-polar molecule because it contains two atoms(chlorine and oxygen) that are arranged symmetrically. Due to this, dipole moments generated on both sides cancel out each other making it’s a non-polar molecule.

Key points of hypochlorite ion

  • Hypochlorite ion salts formed when alkaline earth metal hydroxide reacts with chlorine.
  • The most important salt formed from ClO- is sodium hypochlorite salt, this is also called bleach used in various household works.
  • Sodium hypochlorite is a strong liquid oxidizing agent and has a greenish color.
  • When hypochlorite contact with organic material, it sparks.
  • Hypochlorite is very toxic that causes irritation in the eyes, skin burning, or other health hazards.
  • It starts to decompose around 40ºC.
  • Hypochlorite salts are unstable in their pure form.

Uses of Hypochlorite ion

  • Hypochlorite ion is used as a water treatment agent.
  • The most important use of hypochlorite ion is for, bleaching and as disinfection material.
  • In households, it is used to whiten clothes and clean water.
  • Industrially, it is used to eliminate bad smells, bleaching, and surface purification.
  • It is also used to remove stains.
  • It is one of the important components of various sanitizers.


Is ClO- acid or base?

Hypochlorite ion(ClO-) is a base in nature as it accepts the one proton when dissolved in water and formed a Hypochlorous acid(HClO). And anything that accepts the proton in an aqueous solution is said to be base in nature.

⇒ ClO + H2O → HClO + OH

Generally, hypochlorite ion(ClO-) is a conjugate base of Hypochlorous acid (HClO).

How many lone pairs and bond pairs electrons are present in ClO- lewis structure?

Lone pairs electrons are the electrons in the lewis diagram that don’t take parts in chemical bonding which means they don’t form any chemical bond.

Whereas the bond pair electrons are the electrons in the lewis diagram that form a chemical bond between atoms, they are also called shared pair electrons.

So, the total lone pair electrons in ClO- lewis structure is 12 (3 – 3 lone pairs on chlorine and oxygen).

And bonded pair electrons in ClO- lewis structure is only 2 (one single bond between chlorine and oxygen).


  • The total valence electron available for the Hypochlorite (ClO-) lewis structure is 14.
  • The hybridization of chlorine and oxygen in the ClO- the molecule is Sp3.
  • ClO- is a non-polar molecule as it has a symmetrical structure and zero dipole moment.
  • The overall formal charge in ClO- is -1.
  • The bond angle in ClO- is 180º.
  • The molecular geometry of ClO- is linear and electron geometry is tetrahedral.
  • Total number of 6 lone pairs and 1 bond pairs present in the lewis structure of ClO-
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