Difference Between Soap and Detergent (With Table)

Cleanliness is next to Godliness. As we say, cleaning the dirt off the clothes has always been a tedious and tiring process. However, the use of either soap, detergents, or washing powder could do wonders. From protecting you from deadly viruses to rendering you a pleasant environment, cleanliness is very much important. 

Soap vs Detergent

The difference between soap and detergent is that soap is a type of cleaning substance that forms either scum or foam when it is mixed with hard water or saltwater. On the contrary, Detergent is a highly concentrated solution that doesn’t form foam or scum while getting the dirt off efficiently.

Soap is a washing product with a mixture of fatty acid’s potassium or sodium salts. From fruity to rough, soaps have been used as a cleansing and lubricating product since 2800 BC. Due to the presence of emulsifying agents, soaps are illustrious for killing germs and washing out dirt off the surfaces. 

On the other hand, detergent is a mixture of surfactants with cleaning elements in dilute solutions. Detergents have been used since the 17th century and are lately available as powders or concentrated solutions for washing routines. Due to their higher solubility, they are good to clean off dirt in hard water for quick and easy clean-off. 

Comparison Table Between Soap and Detergent

Parameters of Comparison Soap Detergent 
MeaningSoap is a sodium or potassium salt of a fatty acid, which is used for cleansing and lubricating products. Soap is an emulsifying agent as it kills germs and washes out by running water. Soaps are sloppy and thick cleaning agents.Detergents are a mixture of surfactants with cleaning elements that come in dilute solutions and engender foaming agents. Detergents are available as powders or concentrated solutions. Detergent is similar to soap but highly soluble in hard water and used for quick cleaning. 
Etymology Soap was made back in 2800 BC in ancient Babylon, where the formula of soap-making had been written down on a Babylonian clay tablet. The Babylon soap consists of fatty acid, animal fats and wood ash which aid to clean the dirt. The term ‘Detergent’ is derived from the Latin verb “Detergere”, which means wipe away the dirt and was recognised as Detergent largely in the 17th century. 
Components The main components added to make soap are fat, alkali, lye, distilled water, vegetable or animal oil,  redolent (if needed any fragrance) and potassium hydroxide. Detergent compounded with  the family of alkylbenzene sulfonates, amphiphilic, party hydrophilic and partly hydrophobic
Types Toilet soaps, glycerin soap, non-toilet, liquid soap, antiseptic soaps, bar soaps, ready-made soaps base etc.There are four types of detergent for each household application such as anionic detergent, non-ionic, cationic and amphoteric detergent.
Application Various soaps are used for disparate uses. For instance, cleansing soap is used to clean yourself from the bath and kitchen soap is to kill the bacteria from the used vessels.Detergent is used in many household cleaning, laundry and dishwashing detergents. 

What is Soap?

Soap is a washing product with a mixture of fatty acid’s potassium or sodium salts. The soaps consist of emulsifying agents, which are preeminent substances for killing germs and washing out dirt off the surfaces. However, they can be used for bathing and cleaning as well, as they are sloppy and thick cleaning agents.

Soap has been in use since 2800 BC in ancient Babylon, where the formula of soap-making had been written down on a Babylonian clay tablet. Having that said, the Babylon soap is made of fatty acid, animal fats and wood ash which aid in cleaning the dirt. 

Subsequently, glycerin soaps, transparent soaps, liquid soaps, toilet soaps, kitchen soaps, medicated soaps, and many more evolved. 

The soaps are usually thick and sloppy and prepared by the process called saponification. Saponification is carried out by converting the fat, alkali, lye, distilled water, vegetable or animal oil, redolent (if needed any fragrance) or potassium hydroxide into soap and alcohol by the action of aqueous alkali.

Eventually, soaps are used for many purposes, including bathing soaps for cleaning oneself and kitchen soap to kill the bacteria from the vessels and other bodies.

What is Detergent? 

Detergent is a synthetic derivative mixture of surfactants with cleaning elements in dilute solutions. Due to their higher solubility, detergents are good to remove dirt in hard water as well as saline water in order for a quick and easy clean-off. 

The detergent was in use only by the 17th century, where the term ‘Detergent’ is derived from the Latin verb “Detergere”, which means to wipe away the dirt from a surface. Over time, detergent is widely used as a water-soluble cleaning agent which combines the impurities and the dirt for a soluble clean off.

Chemically, detergents are prepared by the action of sulphuric acid followed by neutralization and sulfonation of Lauryl alcohol. 

Detergents are from the family of alkylbenzene sulfonates, an amphiphilic structure, where the hydrophilic partly attaches to the water, while the hydrophobic partly repels water to pull off the dirt easily. 

Over and above, detergents are classified into four types in the case of household applications, an anionic detergent, non-ionic, cationic and amphoteric detergent. Unlike soaps which are used on the body, detergents are only for household cleaning, laundry and dishwashing purposes.  

Main Differences Between Soap and Detergent

  1. Soap is a thick sloppy texture, which subsumes fatty acid and sodium or potassium salt in it. Whereas, Detergent is a highly concentrated solution that comes either in powder or liquid form and contains a mixture of surfactants and generates a foaming reaction. 
  2. Soap was incipient in 2300 BC in ancient Babylon, where the people of Babylon inscribed on Babylonian clay tablets. Meanwhile, detergent evolved from a Latin term “Detergere” that means “to wipe” and was recognised well in the 17th century as “detergent” in English. 
  3. The soap contains vegetable or animal oil, fragrance, alkali, lye, distilled water, potassium hydroxide and fats. On the other hand, Detergent is made up of the family of alkylbenzene sulfonates, partly hydrophilic, amphiphilic and partly hydrophobic, which ultimately brews foam. 
  4. Soap is classified as liquid soap, Toilet soaps, non-toilet, glycerin soap and antiseptic soaps etc. Albeit detergent disparate into four categories- non-ionic, amphoteric detergent, cationic and anionic detergent.
  5. Soap is most commonly used for cleansing our body, washing off the vessels, and cleaning other households. Notwithstanding, Detergent is also a cleansing product and includes laundry detergent and dishwashing detergent. 

Conclusion

Soap and detergent are cleansing products, despite soap being a group of fatty acids and salt used to produce a thick sloppy texture. Soap evolved from Babylon, where it was discovered that the soap-making process is inscribed on a tablet that states that fatty acid, animal fats and wood ash are added to make the soap. Soap is a compound of fatty acid and requires alkali, lye, distilled water, vegetable or animal oil and potassium hydroxide to make a bar of soap. Soap is used for cleaning dirt while taking a bath and also helps to kill germs or bacteria from the vessels.

Detergent is a mixture of surfactants with cleaning elements that come either in powder form or highly diluted solution. Detergents are foaming agents which consist of amphiphilic, party hydrophilic, party hydrophobic and belong to the family of alkylbenzene sulfonates. Detergent is used for washing the clothes(Laundry) and dishwashing. Besides, detergent has four types such as anionic detergent, non-ionic, cationic and amphoteric detergent, which has unique properties for each detergent.

References

  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/016344370202400307
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/bip.360290206
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