When it comes to cleaning, people often question the use of use soap verses the use of detergents. It is true that both soap and detergent can help kill germs and bacteria, though antibacterial ingredients are more often added to detergents. People often do not realize that there is actually a great deal of difference between the two, and there is a proper time and place for each. Each product has its own benefits and advantages, with detergent being more generally useful in commercial cleaning, floor cleaning, and laundry, with soap being more normally used for the more delicate applications like face cleaning and laundering delicate items.
Soap and detergent are actually two very different kinds of products, in that one is organic in nature (soap) and the other (detergent) is synthetic; but, this in itself, does not necessarily make one better than the other.
Technically, soap is sodium or potassium salts of fatty acids, and today is mostly used for cleaning human skin, but in the past was used for many other cleaning purposes, too. Detergents, on the other hand, are chemically synthesized products specifically designed for specific types of cleaning. It is generally accepted that soap is gentler to human skin, but in fact both detergents and soaps can be harmful to skin (but are not always), and neither of them will kill, or remove, 100% of all bacteria. For this reason, in commercial cleaning, (janitorial), specifically designed solutions (that often include germicides) are used to insure bacteria free results in medically sensitive areas.
Other differences exist too, other than the simple fact that soaps are made from fat and alkali materials, while detergents are made from non-alkaline carbon based compounds. Soaps are typically more affordable than detergents, and are usually not used for clothes as they might damage the fabric. Detergent on the other hand, can suitably clean delicate clothes, and maintain softness of the fabric. Some studies have shown that soaps clean better when used in conjunction with hot water, but that detergents can clean equally well in both hot and cold waters. Hard water (water containing a lot of minerals) makes it hard for soaps to lather, and to be able to clean effectively, but detergents easily lather in hard water, and can still clean very well. Lastly, soaps tend to use more water when rinsing, and detergents can be rinsed efficiently with a less water.
Benefits of Using Soap
One benefit of soap is that it is usually much better for those people who have sensitive skin. Soaps are not that harsh to the skin as detergents, so soap is more often a better choice for cleaning, for those who wish to protect their skin when cleaning. And, as mentioned above, soaps are often cheaper.
Benefits of Using Detergent
There are also plenty of benefits in using detergent when cleaning that should also be considered. Detergents are more effective in removing stains, and they can be used regardless of the temperature of the water. Detergents are particularly useful for cleaning, floor mopping, and virtually every type of janitorial application; detergents can also be useful for absorbing (and disbursing) such things as oil spills.
Determining which product is best to use for janitorial applications, office cleaning, restaurant cleaning and other commercial cleaning applications, is best left to your janitorial professional, who not only has a wide breadth of knowledge, but also a vast number of specialized products at their easy disposal.