I do not like body wash always with strong favor. I like hand wash soap to wash my body. Are they difference at all?

Thanks for the comments, so that I add the following information I am really sorry that I posted the question using my phone at my office parking lot right before I went to work this morning, so not much detail was added

To my limited knowledge, Body wash and hard wash soaps are detergent, they both are OK to use on skin. If that is the case, why body wash soap is body wash soap? What I mean is that from the chemistry point of view, what makes body wash soap difference from hand wash soap?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Ingredients should be on the side of the bottle. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 20, 2013 at 2:11
  • $\begingroup$ Hi Marco, could you perform a bit of research and edit the question to reflect what you have found the differences to be, and then perhaps ask for which ingredients might be more beneficial for removing dirt or grease? $\endgroup$
    – jonsca
    Commented Feb 20, 2013 at 3:24

4 Answers 4


(My sister-in-law works at Unilever, and she makes these soaps)

These are all detergents. The primary differences are harshness (hand soaps can be harsher, as hands are often more soiled), lathering, concentration, perfuming/scents, and marketing.

(Emphasis on the marketing.)


Basically, they are the same thing. But, by adding some ingredients and changing the pH, soaps can act like mild or more harsh detergents. There are a lot of different types of soaps in the market; like ones especially made to treat baby skin, for face skin, body, hands, etc.


In common composition they are the same but there may be a little difference due to the antibacterial materials added and the smell.


What is the difference between dish soap, handsoap, body wash and shampoo? And can they all be used interchangably? : NoStupidQuestions

Dish soap is focused on your dishes, as the name implies. It is meant for clearing out things like grease and oil off your plates by breaking down fats.

Laundry detergent is still soap but with things like water softeners, bleach and enzymes added in to further break down the same grime, as well as things like plant chlorophyll.

Shampoo is to remove the unwanted build-up of dirt or grime in the hair without stripping out so much sebum (natural body oils) as to make hair unmanageable.

Hand soap is to reduce barriers to solution, and increase solubility. Water is an inefficient skin cleanser by itself because fats and proteins, which are components of organic soil, are not readily dissolved in water. Hand soap contains chemicals that break those down.

Theoretically they could be interchangeable, but they all contain specialized chemical mixes to be the most efficient at their respective jobs that using them not for their intended purpose would be counter-productive. i.e. Using laundry detergent on your hair may remove the oils that shampoo would not and damage your hair as a result.

ELI5: What's the fundamental difference between hand soap, dish soap, body wash, bar soap and shampoo? : explainlikeimfive

They're each focused on a different purpose

Dish soap should cut through grease and oil, that's its primary job. It doesn't necessarily need to smell nice or be soft on the hands as long as it plows through stuck on grease

Hand soap should be decent at getting stuff off your hands, but also needs to be soft on the hands. It should be neutral or smell nice.

Shampoo should remove the grease from your hair, but not be so aggressive it dries it out or changes its color which may be acceptable with something like a dish soap

Different tools for different jobs. If you want it to be soft on hands then it can't be super aggressive, if you want it to be super aggressive it'll do bad things to soft things like skin and hair.

ELI5: what is the difference between all types of soap. i.e. shampoo, hand wash. Body wash, bar soap, dish soap, detergent etc... : explainlikeimfive

Most modern liquid "soaps" are not technically soaps at all, which is to say they're not produced from mixing vegetable or animal fats with a strongly alkaline solution such as lye or potash. Instead they're a blend of (usually) petroleum-derived surfactants such as sodium lauryl sulfate with other chemicals to produce a detergent that matches the desired use.

Shampoo is designed to be gentle on the keratin which forms hair, have strong foaming properties to be more easily worked through the fine strands, remove common hairstyling products, and - especially for those of us with more than a couple inches of hair - have specific effects on the texture of the hair. It has a fairly low concentration of surfactants so that it rinses out quickly and you're not in the shower forever trying to get it all out of your hair.

Hand and body wash is usually formulated with a mild surfactant to avoid skin irritation, plus various ingredients that can moisturize the skin, add scent, improve lather, etc. Lathering agents are generally surfactants as well, so there's a careful balance here between getting a nice lather and not drying out skin. Hand washes are usually less foamy since they don't need to cover much surface area and are used frequently throughout the day, while body washes tend towards more foam since they need to cover a lot more surface area and are used less frequently. They're both a bit more concentrated than shampoo, since it's easier to rinse soap off of skin than hair, and in the case of body wash, most consumers pour it onto a sponge/pouf/washcloth/etc. before applying it to the skin, which spreads it out thinner than applying it directly. Face washes are their own magical category and can include all sorts of fun chemistry like ceramides and multivesicular emulsions, alpha hydroxy acids, benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, etc. - and as an acne sufferer, it definitely makes a difference.

Bar soaps are one area where true soaps are still relatively common. Moisturizing ingredients can also be added, and the naturally occurring glycerine is also somewhat moisturizing. However, traditional soaps also have a lot of limitations. They have a fairly narrow range of environments in which they're effective, needing hot water with a low mineral content to function, and must be rinsed a second time with clean water to avoid deposits.

Laundry detergents are commonly formulated these days with specific surfactants designed to work well with cold and hard water, both of which decrease the effectiveness of traditional soaps. They're also highly concentrated, since they're going to be diluted by the large volume of wash-water, which is why just a few drops of liquid detergent on your hands will take much longer to rinse off than an equal amount of hand soap. This is also why ideally you should fill the washer with soap and water so they can mix, then add the clothes.

Dishwasher detergents aren't worried about gentleness, since they don't come in contact with skin or organic fibers, so they can use harsher detergents and often include abrasives, but do rely on hot water to be effective. For similar reasons to laundry detergents, they're highly concentrated, but they use surfactants that are more effective on metal and ceramic.

Dish detergents meant for hand-washing dishes have to balance removing grease, starches, sugars, etc. from food with not completely stripping the natural oils from skin, which is a bit tricky - the oils that keep your skin nice and pliable aren't any different from the oils of any other animal, chemically speaking. They're also pretty highly concentrated for that "grease-fighting" effect, and so that your washcloth/sponge/etc. doesn't need more soap on it after every dish you wash.


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