Laundry soap vs detergent: hygiene, and the environment.
September 22, 2017 4:19 PM   Subscribe

I read a site that claims that soap doesn't get laundry properly clean, that detergents found in most commercial laundry powders are more effective. Is that true? And are laundry detergents still ecologically damaging?

The site I read was this:

My understanding from high-school chemistry was that soap works fine in soft water but leaves scum in hard water. So if you add washing soda to soap powder (for homemade laundry powder), that should make the water soft, and then I don't see why the soap should leave mineral/scum deposits?

(this is all relevant because the laundry powder (Bio-D) I'm using is based on a vegetable soap and washing soda: I did specifically ask the manufacturer - it actually is soap, not detergent.)
posted by tangerine_poppies to Science & Nature (1 answer total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Well, soap is made from oils/fats, so while it's better for your skin, I could see where it might leave a residue on clothes. Adding household vinegar to your final rinse would probably get rid of any residue. A quick scan of relevant soap/detergent/laundry articles on Wikipedia seems to say that yes, detergent is still bad for the environment.

Incidentally, in the US, the bars of "soap" you buy at the grocery store for washing your body are actually almost always detergent and are very drying on your skin. (Legally, in the US detergents are allowed to be called soap.) Switching to handmade soap, especially glycerin soaps, made a big difference in my skin.
posted by MexicanYenta at 3:48 AM on September 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

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