Distinguishing Between Soaps & Detergents

Soap vs Detergents

Although soap and detergents are common household items, many people do not fully understand the difference between them. Knowing the difference can be helpful in using them correctly for cleaning or washing purposes. Both soap and detergents have become essential in our daily lives, with soap being essential for cleaning our skin and detergents being essential for cleaning our clothes. The difference between soaps and detergents can help you choose products that are more environmentally friendly.

Both soaps and detergents have similar chemical properties. They are both surfactants, or in other words, surface-active agents. They help to reduce the surface tension of water, which is important for cleaning purposes. Their discovery has to do with the shortage of natural oils during World War I.

Key Takeaways

  • Soaps are made from natural products, while detergents are made from synthetic products.
  • Soaps are softer and used on our skin, while detergents are harder and used for washing clothes.
  • Soaps are more environmentally friendly and biodegradable, while detergents can be harmful to the environment.

What are Soaps?

Soaps are made from natural products. They are created by reducing natural fats and oils obtained from animals and plants to fatty acids and glycerin. These are then mixed with sodium or potassium salts to create soap and water. Soaps have a hydrophilic end that attracts water and a hydrophobic end that repels water, allowing the soap to break down materials that dissolve in oil and water. Sodium salts are used in soap bars, while potassium salts are used in liquid soaps and shaving creams. Soaps are natural, less harmful to us and the environment, and are biodegradable. However, when used in hard water, soap can create a residue that can leave a film on clothes and clog drains.

What are Detergents?

Detergents are made from synthetic products. They are created using propylene, a byproduct of the petroleum industry. Propylene is made into a compound that reacts with H2SO4, then NaOH is added to create a sodium salt similar to that used in soap. Since detergents are synthetically made, they are used to clean clothes rather than being used on the skin.

What is the difference between Soap and Detergent?

While both soaps and detergents are used for cleaning and carry pleasant smells, they have different compositions and properties. Soaps are made from natural fats and oils, while detergents are synthetically manufactured. Soaps are soft and used on skin, while detergents are hard and used for washing clothes. Soaps are biodegradable and do not harm the environment, while detergents can be less environmentally friendly. Soap does not create as much lather as detergents and can build up on clothes over time, leaving an odor. Detergents produce more bubbles that catch dirt and prevent it from reattaching to clothes. One disadvantage of soaps is their tendency to clog drains, while detergents can be harmful to the environment. Soaps can be used for washing both skin and clothes without causing damage, while using detergent on skin can cause problems due to its harsher composition.

Dmitri Ivanov
Dmitri Ivanovhttps://whats-different.com
Dmitri Ivanov, a writer and managing editor, was educated in Canada and holds a BS in Science. Dmitri loves doing research, writing, and teaching various courses.


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