Ask Difference

Cleaner vs. Cleanser — What's the Difference?

By Maham Liaqat & Fiza Rafique — Updated on March 15, 2024
Cleaners remove dirt and grime, while cleansers specifically target impurities on the skin or in personal care.
Cleaner vs. Cleanser — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Cleaner and Cleanser


Key Differences

While cleaners can be used on a variety of surfaces, including floors, windows, and countertops, cleansers are specifically designed for the skin, with formulations that respect the skin's natural barriers and pH levels. On the other hand, cleaners often contain stronger chemicals and are not suitable for use on the skin.
Cleaners are essential for maintaining a clean and hygienic environment in homes, offices, and public spaces, playing a critical role in the prevention of disease. Cleansers, however, play a crucial role in personal hygiene and skincare routines, helping to prevent skin problems like acne and irritation.
The choice between a cleaner and a cleanser depends on the object or area needing cleaning. For household or industrial cleaning tasks, a cleaner is appropriate. For personal hygiene and skincare, a cleanser is the correct choice, reflecting the different purposes and formulations of these products.
Despite their differences, both cleaners and cleansers are crucial for maintaining cleanliness and health. They are formulated differently to cater to their specific uses, with cleaners being more versatile for a range of cleaning tasks and cleansers being specialized for safe and effective skin care.

Comparison Chart


Remove dirt and grime from various surfaces
Clean the skin, removing impurities


Surfaces, objects, environments


May contain stronger chemicals
Formulated with skin-safe ingredients

Primary Use

Cleaning homes, offices, public spaces
Personal hygiene and skincare


Not suitable for skin
Designed specifically for use on skin

Compare with Definitions


A substance for removing dirt from surfaces.
The window cleaner left the glass streak-free.


A product designed to clean the skin.
Her facial cleanser gently removes makeup and dirt.


Used for a wide range of cleaning tasks.
A multi-purpose cleaner is great for both kitchen and bathroom.


Formulated to be gentle on the skin.
This cleanser is perfect for sensitive skin, as it contains no harsh chemicals.


Often has strong chemicals.
This industrial cleaner can remove even the toughest stains.


Used in skincare routines.
Applying a moisturizer after the cleanser helps keep skin hydrated.


Essential for maintaining a hygienic environment.
Regular use of a good cleaner can prevent the spread of germs.


Helps prevent skin problems.
Using a daily cleanser can reduce the occurrence of acne.


Not suitable for use on skin.
Be careful not to get the floor cleaner on your hands.


Tailored to different skin types.
She uses a cleanser designed for oily skin to control shine.


A cleaner or a cleaning operative is a type of industrial or domestic worker who cleans homes or commercial premises for payment. Cleaning operatives may specialise in cleaning particular things or places, such as window cleaners.


The term cleanser refers to a product that cleans or removes dirt or other substances. A cleanser could be a detergent, and there are many types of cleansers that are produced with a specific objective or focus.


One whose work or business is cleaning.


A detergent, powder, or other chemical agent that removes dirt, grease, or stains.


A machine or substance used in cleaning.


A skin lotion or cream that is used to clean the face.


Often cleaners A dry-cleaning establishment
Dropped off the stained shirt at the cleaners.


Something that cleanses, such as a detergent.


A person whose occupation is to clean floors, windows and other things.


One who, or that which, cleanses; especially, a detergent or other preparation used for cleaning.


A device that cleans, such as the vacuum cleaner.


A preparation used in cleaning something


A substance used for cleaning, a cleaning agent.


(in the plural) A professional laundry or dry cleaner business. This form is now interpreted as plural and usually spelled without an apostrophe, even in official usage, to justify the removal of the apostrophe. It was traditionally spelled cleaner's with an apostrophe because this is grammatically correct, as can be seen with forms such as go to the doctor's, which cannot be reinterpreted as plural.
I'll have to take this shirt to the cleaners.


One who, or that which, cleans.


A preparation used in cleaning something


The operator of dry-cleaning establishment


Someone whose occupation is cleaning

Common Curiosities

Are all cleansers soap-based?

Not all; some cleansers are soap-free, designed to clean without stripping the skin's natural oils.

Can a cleaner be used as a cleanser?

No, cleaners are not formulated for skin use and can be harmful.

Do cleansers contain moisturizing ingredients?

Many cleansers contain moisturizing ingredients to help maintain the skin's natural moisture barrier.

Can I use a cleanser for my entire body?

While some cleansers can be used on the body, they are primarily formulated for the face. Body washes are more suitable for overall use.

What's the difference between a cleanser and a face wash?

The terms are often used interchangeably, but some distinguish a face wash as a type of cleanser with more foaming action, suitable for removing oil and sweat.

Can using a cleaner on the skin cause problems?

Yes, using a cleaner not designed for skin can cause irritation, dryness, and chemical burns.

What is the main difference between a cleaner and a cleanser?

The main difference is their use; cleaners are for cleaning surfaces, while cleansers are specifically for cleaning the skin.

Can cleansers remove makeup?

Yes, many cleansers are formulated to remove makeup along with dirt and oil.

Are there natural cleansers?

Yes, there are cleansers made with natural ingredients for those who prefer a more organic skincare routine.

How often should I use a skin cleanser?

It varies by skin type, but generally, it's recommended to cleanse your face twice a day, morning and night.

Is it necessary to use both a cleaner and a cleanser?

Yes, for overall hygiene and health, using both is essential—cleaners for your environment and cleansers for your skin.

How do I choose the right cleanser for my skin type?

Consider your skin type (oily, dry, sensitive, etc.) and look for cleansers formulated to address your specific needs.

Are there cleansers for specific skin conditions?

Yes, there are cleansers formulated for specific skin conditions, like acne-prone or eczema-sensitive skin, offering targeted care.

Can cleansers expire?

Yes, like all skincare products, cleansers have an expiration date and should be used within this timeframe for best results.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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