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Liquid Soap vs. Liquid Detergent Clarification

Liquid Soap vs. Liquid Detergent Clarification

Nowadays most products we think of as soap are actually detergents.  The dishwashing “soap” at your sink is a common example of a detergent.  Many recipes on this site give you the option to choose between liquid soap or liquid detergent.  Although most work well with either (I try to note any exceptions), there are some significant differences between the two:

  • Liquid detergent is the stuff most people hand wash the dishes with which is why I usually refer to it as dish soap.  It’s not technically soap but that’s what people know it as, so that’s what I call it.  Detergents are petroleum based, have more chemicals and are more taxing to the earth.  Products made with detergent leave additional residue and take longer to wipe off.  Liquid detergent is however, cheap and very easy to find.  It also stretches further – half the amount of liquid detergent can be used in place of liquid soap
  • True Liquid soap (which I usually refer to as castile soap) is vegetable oil based, typically derived from coconut or olive oil.  My favorite brand is Dr. Bronners which I buy in bulk.  Its ingredients and production are more natural and kinder to the earth.  Products made with true soap also tend to wipe cleaner.  However, it’s more expensive, you may have to go to a natural food store to buy it and it takes twice as much liquid soap to match liquid detergent’s cleaning power.
My verdict: I personally prefer true soap and think it makes a slightly better product.  But if I’m being honest, I make many last minute recipes with liquid detergent simply because I have it on hand.  The environmental impact is small, especially if you use a biodegradable liquid detergent.  And homemade cleaning recipes using detergent are still far greener than the commercial equivalents you’re replacing.  So both options will make a good, low chemical product – the choice is yours!
Photo Credit: palmolive, a photo by tlossen on Flickr.

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