Many housekeeping experts discourage the use of industrial-grade heavy-duty cleaners at home. When you watch cleaning tutorials, you will see them opting for mild soap instead.
What is mild soap, anyway? When, where, and why should you use it?
Generally speaking, it refers to any soap with pH levels closer to our skin and does not contain builders or any harsh chemicals. Depending on the formula, mild soap can be either used for showering or cleaning surfaces.
Before you grab your cleaning supplies, take time to read this article so you can determine the product that is most appropriate for your chores.
Table of Contents
- But First: What Is Soap?
- Things to Know About Mild Soap
- Soap vs. Detergent
- Different Types of Mild Soap and Detergents
- When Should I Use Mild Soap?
But First: What Is Soap?
To better understand the definition of mild soap, let us first establish what a “true soap” is.
This US Food and Drug Administration’s FAQ page reports that many store-bought soaps are not considered “true” soap anymore.
Though the majority of body cleansers and detergents are sold as “soap,” they do not meet the regulatory definition of the word.
For a product to be considered a true soap, it has to be made chiefly from alkali salts of fatty acids, which are obtained when fats or oils are combined with an alkali, like lye.
I strongly recommend reading more about it on the Code of Federal Regulations website if you’re into soap making.
Most traditional soaps have an acidity level or pH level of 9 to 10, which is of course higher than our skin’s acidity levels. But they are still safe to use.
Note that the pH scale ranges from 1 to 14. Considering that pH level 7 is “neutral,” numbers lower than this are deemed acidic. Meanwhile, pH levels higher than 7 are considered alkaline or non-acidic.
Things to Know About Mild Soap
To date, there is no one standard formula or definition for mild soap, even in the scientific world.
Generally speaking, soaps that are considered “mild” have these attributes:
1. Gentle to our skin
According to the National Library of Medicine, the natural skin pH falls between 5.4 to 5.9 but the scales tend to be broader, which is a round 4 to 7. Therefore, the soap needs to be closer to your skin’s pH level to prevent irritation.
2. Free of builders and harsh ingredients like ammonia and chlorine
For those who don’t know, detergent builders are chemicals that boost the detergent’s cleaning abilities. For instance, sodium tripolyphosphate in industrial detergents.
Soap vs. Detergent
Many of us use the words soap and detergent interchangeably. After all, they clean all of our stuff. In terms of technical definition, however, there is a fine line between the two.
As this article from Hunker explains, both soap and detergent contain surfactants, reducing the surface tension of water. As such, they enable us to remove all the dirt, grimes, and even grease with ease.
Soap and detergent are both formulated from fat or oil, which is combined with lye. But detergents have surfactants that come from petroleum and other synthetics as well.
These days, many products mix these natural animal fats or oils with synthetics. Here, the line between soap and detergent blurs. Either way, their pH level will determine their “mildness.”
Different Types of Mild Soap and Detergents
The explanation I gave above is pretty broad so let’s get to the specifics of what is considered mild soap:
1. Mild body soap and shampoos
Castile soap is the perfect example of mild soap. On Dr. Bronner’s packaging, for instance, you will see that the label says “18-in-1.”
Though commonly used for body, it can also be used for face and hair. If you dilute it, you can even wash your clothes and dishes with it.
Many of you are probably wondering: Is Safeguard a mild soap? Is Lifebuoy a mild soap?
Well, the answer is not in the brand but the variant. Lifebuoy, for instance, offers Mild Care Bar soap, which is designed for sensitive skin.
As for cleaning wounds, your doctor may recommend you to use a soap that is fragrance-free. Depending on the severity, you might be asked to clean the wound with a chemical antiseptic like chlorhexidine to prevent infection.
2. Mild dishwashing soap
Another example is dish soap. Typically, a mild dish soap has a pH level of 7. Thus, you can wash dishes with your bare hands and not feel any form of irritation. Dawn dish soap is a popular brand that falls under the mild cleaning solution category.
3. Laundry detergent
Just like dish soap, mild detergent is safe for hand-washing clothes. At the same time, it contains surfactants that aid in getting rid of grease, dirt, and other stains.
One key distinction between strong detergents and mild ones is that the former contains builders. Brands like Ivory and Joy are great examples of mild soap.
4. Soap nuts
When it comes to eco-friendly options, you can opt for soap nuts! Also known as Indian soap berries, soap nuts have saponin (natural soap) on their shells. These “dried fruits” make for an awesome alternative to chemical-based detergents. You can use a mild soap for cleaning your clothes and your dishes!
When Should I Use Mild Soap?
Earlier, I mentioned using mild soap for dishwashing and laundry. Well, there are more. Below, I’ve gathered 4 ways you can use mild soap:
1. Unclog toilets and kitchen sinks
If your kitchen sink is clogged, you can fix it with Dawn dish soap and hot water. Learn how to do so in this video on Youtube. Meanwhile, this tutorial on Rustic Wise provides detailed steps on how to use dish soap to unclog a toilet.
2. Clean your jewelry
With a mixture of warm water and a couple of drops of mild dish soap, you can scrub your jewelry pieces and make them shine bright. That said, Josephs Jewelry warns that this DIY method may not work on all gemstones.
3. Remove grease on kitchen surfaces
Your kitchen cupboard and cabinets will surely be greasy after cooking several times a day. Luckily, you can use mild dishwashing soap to clean them up.
4. Use Castile soap to clean your house
Since Castile soap is considered an all-purpose cleaner, you can use it to eliminate fingerprints or smudges on the walls. Just mix the soap with a bucket of warm water and you’re ready to go! But this is just one of the many ways you can use Castile soap to clean your house.
If you want to learn more, I invite you to check out Dr. Bronner’s grandaughter Lisa Bronner’s Youtube channel. She teaches all sorts of cleaning techniques with Castile soap.
“What is mild soap?” The answer will likely be different depending on who you ask.
As I said, it can be pretty much any soap or detergent. This catch-all term is used to describe cleansers that do not harm the skin, which is quite broad.
By providing you examples and ideas on how to use them, I hope that get a better idea and give them a try before turning to industrial grade cleaners. Remember, they work amazingly well for cleaning, as well as unclogging sinks and toilets!