In a typical household, the following surfactants are found, among others:

  • Soap / handwash
  • Shower gel
  • Shampoo
  • Dishwashing agent
  • Washing powder / liquid

From my understanding, the role of all these is to lower the surface tension between water and fatty acids, enabling one to "wash" things.

Are they all the same then, and is the only difference between them marketing? Can I wash my hair with dishwashing agent, or pour shower gel into my washing machine?


1 Answer 1


Can I wash my hair with dishwashing agent [...]!

If it's an agent for dishwashing machines: Please DON'T!

Cleaning in dishwashing machines is performed in alkaline medium.

The tabs usually contain (among others):

  1. alkaline compounds, such as sodium carbonate and sodium hydroxide
  2. bleaching agents, such as sodium perborate and sodium percarbonate
  3. pentasodium triphosphate (to keep calcium and magnesium in solution)

The solution of these tabs is not meant to get in contact with skin and eyes.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Exactly, as someone who has seen the result of a particular nasty interaction between a strong detergent and someone's eyes (was a first responder to it), I can definitely echo this answer (I will upvote when I can - hit the vote cap) $\endgroup$
    – user4076
    Mar 16, 2014 at 10:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.