Different Types Of Soap And How To Use Them

A clean home is a happy home, but what type of soap should you use? Should it be the kind that smells like lavender or apple? What about the environmentally-friendly ones with no chemicals? Here are some tips on choosing the right soap.

Types of Soaps Based on Usage

Kitchen Soaps 

Generally mild and unscented, it is most often used to clean dishes. Some people use it for washing fruits and vegetables. It is mostly made from plant oils.

Laundry Soaps

Created to wash clothes, laundry soaps are very mild. They tend to be gentle on fabrics and work great for removing stains.  They are also unscented and safe for the environment.

Cleaning soaps

Designed to tackle tough stains and grease, these soaps are less mild than laundry soaps. However it is still the gentlest type of soap you can buy. These soaps are a popular choice for washing your car.

Hand Soaps

Lightly scented, most hand soaps are gentle enough to use on the face and hands. They can be used to clean counters but are not recommended for cleaning dishes.

Bath Soaps

If you want a deep cleanse, soap bars are the best choice. Bath soaps go through an additional process of refining, which makes it more mild than any other soap on this list. Bath soaps create the most lather and can be used to clean counters or even your clothes.

Exfoliating Soaps

There are two types of exfoliating soaps: the ones that include an active ingredient like beads or ground shells that slough off dead skin cells; and moisturizing soaps that contain a gentle cleanser and lipids that moisturize skin. Some people use both types together, exfoliating first to remove dead skin cells and then moisturizing.

Spa Soaps

Soaps that are made with ingredients like olive oil, shea butter and jojoba which is good for rejuvenating skin.

All-Purpose Soaps

Great for cleaning most surfaces, this soap is very mild. It can also be used to wash your hands and face. The main ingredient of all-purpose soap is sodium lauryl sulfate, which makes it effective at dissolving grease and oil as well as removing dirt from the floor or table.  All-purpose soap is the mildest type of soap.

Other Soaps (Restaurant, etc.)

Depending on their purpose, other types of soaps may have different ingredients and fragrances. Restaurant and public soaps can be unscented or scented to ensure a good experience for restaurant guests. They are usually made from milder ingredients than other soaps.

Types of Soaps Based on Ingredients

Natural Soaps

Natural soaps are made from ingredients like olive oil, shea butter and coconut oil. They are not only gentle on skin but they also moisturize it. SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) is a very common ingredient in soap. It produces bubbles which make the soap foam effectively during hand washing.

However, SLS may also cause skin drying. So, if you want to choose a natural soap which is not drying, check the label and make sure that it does not contain this ingredient.

Natural soaps can be used for face as well as body but they usually do not last long because these kinds of soap are created from natural ingredients which means they tend to be more fragile and break down faster.

Vegetable Soap

A vegetable soap is usually made from palm oil or coconut oil, although some vegetable soaps may also include olive oil, almond oil or other ingredients. Vegetable soaps are strong enough for cleaning dishes but gentle enough to use on your body. They can also act as a moisturizer. 

Vegetable soaps do not last long because they are made from natural ingredients which break down easily. However, they tend to be less costly than other soap types.

Artificial Soaps

These soaps contain synthetic chemicals like sodium lauryl sulfate or Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). Artificial soaps are strong and can be used to wash hands, dishes or even cars. However these types of soap may contain chemicals which can cause skin irritation.

Synthetic soaps come in many different scents but they do not have natural ingredients. A synthetic soap is usually cheaper than "natural" soaps because of the intense manufacturing process that does not involve any natural ingredients.

Milk Soaps

If you are looking for a soap which is mild, milky and moisturizing then milk soaps are the best choice. Milk soaps may be gently used on face and body. Milk contains proteins which help to prevent skin dryness. However, these soaps tend to leave your skin feeling sticky or oily after using them. 

Animal Soaps 

Animal soaps are not cruelty free. These contain lard and other ingredients derived from animal fat. Skin may become dry after using these soaps but they do not have any artificial chemicals like synthetic or vegetable soap.

Animal soaps are inexpensive and long lasting.

Types of Soaps Based on Form

Types of soaps based on form are based on the type of soap product. The soap product can be: liquid, bar, or gel.

Liquid soaps

Liquid soaps are found in most kitchens and bathrooms. They are used as a cleanser for the hands, face, and body. The soap is usually dispensed from a pump or squirt bottle with a nozzle. Liquid soaps come in many different scents such as lavender, lemon, peach, and peppermint.

The liquid soap can be used on any surface that has oils or fats. However, it is less effective on surfaces that are porous such as parchment paper because it can slide right off. Liquid soaps may contain alcohols or salts to kill bacteria and draw out dirt when they are mixed with water. These are typically found in antibacterial liquid soaps.

Bar Soap

Soaps which are shaped like a bar such as Dove and Ivory for hand washing come in many different scents. These soaps can be used on hands, face, body or hair. They usually have milder ingredients than liquid soaps because of their size. Also, they tend to be inexpensive. 

Bar soaps may also contain herbal or natural ingredients like mint and chamomile for aromatherapy. The bar soap is made from either a combination of oils and chemicals or just chemicals. Bar soaps can also be found in a liquid form which is more expensive than the traditional solid bars because they are made with more natural ingredients. 

Bar soaps are generally long lasting but they can dry out and crumble if they are left exposed to air for too long or if they are placed next to heat. The soap may also become less effective over time because it is exposed to bacteria from the environment or human interactions. 

Gel Soaps

Gel soaps are best for people who have dry skin. The soap is typically designed to help moisturize the skin and remove dirt and oil from the environment or one's body. Gel soaps are made up of chemicals such as potassium stearate, sodium stearate, choline chloride, propylene glycol and monododecyl ester sodium sulfate. Gel soaps are usually clear with a consistency similar to jelly and they melt easily in water.

Gel soap is often sold in small bottles which can be carried around or placed inside of the shower for easy accessibility. Although gel soaps are more expensive than other types of soap, they last longer because of their high density and low water solubility.

Oil Soaps

Oil soaps are often used to clean the skin and hair.  They can be found in food or health stores as an alternative cleanser to synthetic liquid soap products on the market today. Oil soaps usually only last 3-6 months because they naturally expire.

Oil soaps can be made from a blend of different oils but they also contain chemical additives to make them work as a soap. Oil soaps come in many scents but lavender, mint and citrus are the most common. When oil soaps are mixed with water, they create a thick solution similar to that of olive oil. This soap solution is known as a cleansing lotion.  

Oil soaps have many benefits over traditional liquid or bar soap including the following:

1) they can remove excess oil from the hair without drying them out,

2) it is milder on sensitive skin than synthetic products,

3) it helps to moisturize dry and cracked skin without clogging pores and

4) It can be made at home.

Type of Soap Based on Fragrance

All soaps used today have a scent based on either artificial or natural ingredients. Some of the common scents include lavender, peach, peppermint and lemon:


Lavender is derived from lavender flowers. The scent is known to be calming and relaxing for one's psychological health. It can also help to relieve pain and itchiness from insect bites. Lavender can be used for aromatherapy and in beauty products such as soaps, lotions, shampoos and eye-creams. 


Peach soap is made up of peach pulp extract that is mixed with chemicals and potassium hydroxide to produce a thick mixture. This scent is used to help moisturize dry skin and is known for its ability to reduce inflammation. 


Peppermint is a mint plant which can be turned into a thick liquid with potassium hydroxide. This solution is often mixed with water and sodium bicarbonate (a type of salt that has the appearance of baking soda) to produce the soap. Peppermint soap is commonly used for aromatherapy and it is said to help clear up acne, headaches, sunburns and more.

Peppermint oil has been used to treat several medical conditions including nausea, pain from sore muscles or joints, rashes caused by eczema and plaque build-up from gum disease. It is also used in toothpastes to help protect against cavities, cure bad breath and stop plaque buildup. 


Lemon soap is made from lemon juice which has been mixed with potassium hydroxide to produce a thick liquid solution. Lemon soaps contain antioxidants that can be absorbed into the skin and it helps to remove dead skin cells and excess oil in the body. It is also known to stimulate hair growth because of its citric acid content.


1) What is the difference between bar and liquid soap?

Bar soaps are created from animal or vegetable fats that are mixed with water to produce a solid substance.

Soap bars usually last longer than liquid soaps because they contain less fat, water and chemical additives.  

Liquid soaps are made up of ingredients such as glycerin and essential oils which are mixed with chemicals (including potassium hydroxide) and water to form a solution. Liquid soaps have higher amounts of fats, oils, fragrances and other additives than their bar soap counterparts because of the liquid solutions that they contain.

2) What does glycerin do for the soap? 

Glycerin is a chemical fat that can be turned into soap and mixed with water or alcohol. Glycerin comes from animal fats, plants or synthetic sources such as petroleum. It's basically used to add moisturizers to soaps because it softens the skin when used for long periods of time.

3) What are the benefits of using soap?

Soaps help remove excess oil and dirt on the body in addition to killing bacteria.  Soap is made from oils and fats that help clean clothes, hands, bodies. Soaps also have chemical additives which can soften hair, heal cracked skin or dryness associated with eczema and acne breakouts.  

4) What is a good soap to use if you have oily skin?

Soaps with glycerin and oils are better for those who suffer from oily skin or hair. Soaps that contain coconut oil, safflower oil or almond oil usually produce this effect because they help remove dirt and excess sebum from the skin.

5) What should you do if you get soap on your clothes?

Soap stains on white or light-colored clothing can be removed easily by soaking the clothing in warm, soapy water with a few drops of bleach. Dry the clothes and check for any remaining stains. If there are still some visible spots, repeat the process.

If you have colored clothes, place the clothing pieces in a plastic bag and add one tablespoon of clear dishwashing liquid and two cups of hot water. Let soak for an hour at room temperature before washing in the laundry detergent.

6) How are soaps different from shampoos?  

Soap cleans the hair by removing loose dirt. Shampoos add volume, shine and are made for daily use.  Soap is also used in toothpastes to help protect against cavities, cure bad breath or stop plaque buildup. Soaps usually come in bar form while shampoos are liquid solutions which can be applied with a sponge or directly on the hair as a liquid.


Soap is a liquid or solid that is intended to help cleanse the body and can be made from different types of oils, fats and other chemical ingredients. There are several different varieties of soap including antibacterial soaps, bar soaps and liquid soaps which contain moisturizing agents for those who have oily skin or hair.

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