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Detergent or Soap?

Detergent or Soap?

Many people are confused about the difference between soap and detergent. Soaps and detergents are not the same thing, although both are surfactants, or surface active agents, which basically means a
washing compound that mixes with grease and water.

Soaps are made of materials found in nature. Detergents are synthetic (although some of the ingredients are natural); they were developed during World War II when oils to make soap were scarce.

There is little doubt that soap is better for your health and the environment than detergents. Detergents are very toxic to fish and wildlife. Nonetheless, a big drawback of washing with soap is that the minerals in water react with those in soap, leaving an insoluble film. This can turn clothes grayish, and the film can leave a residue (such as is found on shower stalls, for example).

Detergents react less to minerals in water and for all practical purposes are the product of choice for laundry, unless you have very soft water. Those of you with hard water—which has a high mineral content—already know about this, I am sure. If you choose to wash your clothes with a detergent—or the dishes, or some of my recipes asking for a biodegradable soap or detergent—you can ensure the least possible damage to the environment by selecting the most biodegradable products.

Health food stores have a number of brands of detergent that are made with renewable materials instead of petroleum-based ingredients, and with natural essential oil fragrance and no dyes. They also sell liquid vegetable-oil soaps called castile soap.

Read more: Home, Green Home Decor, Non-Toxic Cleaning

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on anniebbond.com, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.

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21 comments

+ add your own
11:47AM PDT on Aug 27, 2012

Thanks Annie.

12:15AM PDT on Aug 24, 2012

Thanks for posting.

6:37PM PDT on Aug 21, 2012

noted

1:50AM PDT on Jul 12, 2012

Thanks. Never knew the difference

6:49PM PDT on Jul 4, 2012

sdfasdf

6:49PM PDT on Jul 4, 2012

dddd

6:48PM PDT on Jul 4, 2012

sdafasf

4:27AM PST on Jan 20, 2011

Thanks for the article.

12:07PM PDT on Nov 6, 2010

Excellent!

5:37PM PDT on Nov 4, 2010

Thanks.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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