Why are there so many soap products? Is there a real functional difference between household cleaning detergents?


For example, my grandma (old school depression-era penny pincher) used laundry detergent to wash her dishes. Can someone offer some guidelines for when you could/shouldn’t sub one type of household cleaning soap for another?

In: 1

There are so many because of multiple companies trying to make money.

If it works, use it.

If it doesn’t, don’t.

In all fairness, yes there is, but often, they will do just fine if you just need to clean.

Different soaps are meants to clean different things to different levels and with different regards for the materials, just like different scrubs work for different dishes, and an even more different one works for your skin.

Now, if we also include general cleaning products like window cleaners, please don’t use those to clean dishes or clothes, as they usually contain pretty toxic chemicals.

They will all clean. It’s mostly about what they won’t do.

Laundry soap is formulated to not damage clothes.
Dish soap is made to brake down food particles but won’t get out stains.
Hand soap is designed to get rid of dirt but won’t irritate your skin

Lots of products will use the same or very similar active ingredient, and all the other differences will be largely superficial (colour, smell, viscosity etc).

There are loads of different surfactants (the soapy stuff) but they all do the same thing more or less, although sometimes stuff not intended for contact with human skin might have something caustic added so you should watch out for that before using random household cleaners to wash your hands or your dishes.

At least that’s how it was when I was working R&D for car cleaning stuff, but seriously getting a new product to work was easy, thinking how to market it with smells and colours took up more time than it should have.