In this study, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy is used to analyse nine morpholinium ionic liquids, which are of great interest in green chemistry because of their low toxicity and high recyclability. The effect of the alkyl chain length on the aliphatic C 1s binding energy and the impact of the anion basicity on the cationic N 1s and O 1s binding energies are investigated. It is concluded that by changing the basicity of the anion, there is a more notable change in the electronic environment of the oxygen centre. The impact of a long alkyl side substituent on the cation–anion interactions is also discussed. It is observed that there is an intense charge shielding effect of the alkyl side chain in the cases of octyl and dodecyl substituents, which is reflected in the reduced Br 3d5/2 binding energy.