cleaner/cleanser

piraña utria

Senior Member
Spanish - Colombian with Caribbean nuanc
Good morning my friends.

I’m very curious because I’ve just come across “cleanser” when I was looking through my wife’s beauty products. Is there any nuance between this word and “cleaner” or are they strictly synonyms?

Thanks in advance for your guidance,
 
  • ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    As far as I understand it, PU, cleanser is a beauty product which is meant to clean the skin deep-down, as opposed to (e.g.) soap, which just cleans the surface.
     

    Aardvark01

    Senior Member
    British English (Midlands)
    Further to what Ewie says, I think a 'cleanser' is primarily associated with products for the body, whereas a 'cleaner' could be for the body (soap), the toilet (bleech) or any number of surfaces in general.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Further to what Ewie says, I think a 'cleanser' is primarily associated with products for the body, whereas a 'cleaner' could be for the body (soap), the toilet (bleech) or any number of surfaces in general.
    Would you really use the word cleaner for a soap bar? I think of cleaners as exclusively for inanimate objects.
     

    Cypherpunk

    Senior Member
    US, English
    This is all marketing. 'Cleanser' suggests 'cleansing', which implies purification of a body, even a person's soul. 'Cleaner' suggests soap, disinfectant, even a janitor or other person who cleans buildings.
    'Cleanser' sounds nicer and has better connotations...
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Would you really use the word cleaner for a soap bar? I think of cleaners as exclusively for inanimate objects.
    Hand cleaner springs immediately to mind; this seems to be quite common, if you Google it.

    The OED says that cleanse is (now) a more "elevated" word than "clean" and has less immediate association with the removal of dirt, which seems to apply to its use in face products. This would also account for why "hand cleaner" is OK, as it almost certainly refers to the removal of actual dirt.
     

    jdenson

    Senior Member
    USA / English
    Good morning my friends.

    I’m very curious because I’ve just come across “cleanser” when I was looking through my wife’s beauty products. Is there any nuance between this word and “cleaner” or are they strictly synonyms?

    Thanks in advance for your guidance,
    Hi piraña utria,
    From Webster's New International Dictionary, 3rd Edition:
    "Clean is the word in common and literal use for the removal of dirt; Cleanse, while sometimes implying a thorough cleaning...has acquired the more elevated and figurative senses associated with purification of any sort; as,... "Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity and cleanse me from my sin" (Ps. Ii, 2).

    While products used on the human body are often called cleansers, the word is not limited to that use. Colgate-Palmolive calls Ajax a "powder cleanser", and Acronis calls one of its software products a "drive cleanser".

    JD
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Hand cleaner springs immediately to mind; this seems to be quite common, if you Google it.

    The OED says that cleanse is (now) a more "elevated" word than "clean" and has less immediate association with the removal of dirt, which seems to apply to its use in face products. This would also account for why "hand cleaner" is OK, as it almost certainly refers to the removal of actual dirt.
    Yes, ineed, something like swarfega for garages would be a hand cleaner. I still wouldn't call general soap a cleaner. I guess I'd just call it soap!
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Yes, ineed, something like swarfega for garages would be a hand cleaner. I still wouldn't call general soap a cleaner. I guess I'd just call it soap!
    Exactly, so the issue doesn't really come up with "soap". I think you are right, though, that we don't seem to like to use "cleaner" for the body, but prefer a more "elevated" word when talking about our own persons.

    I wonder if there is an element of advertising-speak behind this. Manufacturers tend not to like common old words being used in reference to their products, rather, something that makes them seem out of the ordinary or more genteel.
     
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