Soap vs. Detergents

What is the difference between soap and detergent? Both products can clean your clothes, but they are made from entirely different things. We will outline the differences between the two and explain how you can make your own soap.

This is the right place to find out how to make a natural and eco-friendly cleaner.

What is the Difference
The number one difference between soap and detergent is the ingredients that are used to make the two. Many brands end up labeling detergents as soap so as to make them appear natural. The best way to tell the difference is to look at the ingredients. Soaps will have traces of glycerin, lye, oil, animal fats, fragrances as well as other biodegradable materials.

In contrast, detergents contain synthetic chemicals. Some of these include dyes, perfumes and petroleum-derived sulfates. They can sometimes contain enzymes. However, in general, detergents are not biodegradable.

Sometimes you can find a detergent that is eco-friendly, however, by looking at the ingredients you can tell that it’s just simple laundry soap. They are labeled differently because many consumers see detergent and think of cleaning laundry. This happens to be a good marketing strategy.

What is Better?
If you want to make clothing look clean, the better option is detergent. This fights odors, tough stains and can disinfect clothing if it contains bleach.

Detergent, however, is not very good for the environment because of the included synthetic ingredients. They are not biodegradable and contain dyes, perfumes, bleach, and optical brighteners, which can irritate skin.

Laundry soap, on the other hand, isn’t as effective for brightening colors and whites because of the lack of optical brighteners. It is also less effective at removing stains. Soap tends to react with lime in water creating soap scum. This is more common with high alkaline soaps or soaps with biological enzymes, which counteract the reaction.

Soap is a more eco-friendly and hypoallergenic option as opposed to detergents. Nowadays there are laundry soap detergents that have almost the same effect as normal detergents.

Top Tip
You can easily remove stains or brighten colors if you use soap and add white vinegar or baking soda. You can find many recipes online for homemade mixtures for removing stains with natural ingredients.

How Do You Make Soap at Home
Are you looking for a soap recipe? We have a simple eco-friendly recipe for laundry powder soap, which even saves you money.


Be sure to wear a mask or work in a well-ventilated area to protect yourself from the lye fumes that are created when it is mixed with water. Remember to avoid using metallic products near lye as they will react together.

The first step is to make the bar of soap. You could buy all-natural bars of soap instead of making it yourself. However, if you’re interested in creating your own you can use the following steps.

1. Measure out the ingredients while wearing rubber gloves.
2. Turn the pot to low heat.
3. Add coconut oil.
4. Prepare the lye solution while the coconut oil is melting. Begin by pouring the water into a bowl. Then slowly begin adding the lye, use a wooden spatula to stir. Warning: Never mix water and lye as this causes a sudden increase in temperature and releases fumes that are dangerous.
5. Put the solution to the side letting it cool for 20 minutes.
6. Once the coconut oil has melted, add in some olive oil. Stir to mix them.
7. Once the oil has reached between 120 to 130°F. Before adding in the lye solution, turn the heat off and stir as you go.
8. Grab a hand blender and begin mixing the solution on a low frequency. Make sure to move in circles.
9. Continue for 10 minutes until it becomes thick like pudding.
10. Leave the pot with a lid on for 50 minutes.
11. Come back to check on the mixture a couple of times. Stir it if it has begun bubbling.
12. Turn the heat off and let cool until it reaches 180°F.
13. Add 30 drops of essential oil. Lavender and lemon are a strong recommendation as they go well together.
14. Pour the solution into the soap molds. Tap them to the countertop to remove air bubbles. You can also use an enameled baking pan if you don’t have soap molds.
15. Leave to harden for 24 hours.
16. You should be able to make around 7 to 10 bars of soap with this solution. Once finished we can begin making the laundry soap powder.
17. Begin by adding washing soda to the airtight container.
18. Next, add baking soda.
19. Finely grate one of the soap bars. If you bought a natural one you can use that instead.
20. Add this to the container as well.
21. Put the lid onto the container and shake. This causes the ingredients to mix.
22. If you want to wash clothing, add one to two tablespoons to the detergent dispenser. The amount depends on how dirty the clothing is. You can keep the leftover bars for washing your hands.

How to Choose The Best Detergent
How do you know a good detergent if you are not making it by hand?

Check Ingredients
Read the ingredients on the products. Look out for optical brighteners, perfumes, bleach, and dyes. These all are ingredients that irritate the skin.

A lot of the brands won’t disclose everything on their label even if they announce they are plant-based.

The main types of laundry detergents are powder, liquid and pods. Each has pros and cons so you can choose whichever you prefer.

The liquid is a much more affordable option and dissolves in water. Pods are more convenient, especially if you have to go to a laundromat. The powder is a lot less messy and usually contains oxygen bleach, which is great for removing stains.

Synthetic fragrances can be very harmful to your lungs and skin. Even though it is very satisfying to have nice smelling and clean clothing, we would recommend everyone with sensitive skin find unscented laundry detergent.

If you like the scents, look for detergents with essential oils. You can even add your own when doing laundry.

All laundry detergents are different. There are laundry detergents that specialize in the removal of odors, baby messes, stains, brighten colors and even more. It is recommended to find the detergent that cleans your clothing the best.

What Washer Do You Have?
Be sure to choose a detergent that is compatible with your washing machine. Otherwise, the water will be unable to reach the detergent. For cold washes make sure to use a detergent that can be used in all temperatures.

Clean Clothing
Detergents are usually not eco-friendly, although they are capable of whitening, brightening, and removing stains.

Laundry soaps are much more biodegradable. These can be found online or in stores. You can also create them yourself. This would make for a very creative afternoon.
Whether you choose to use soap or detergent, your clothes will end up clean.

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