Soap gets you clean, right?

Maybe not. Soap is made with fatty oils of various kinds, both vegetable and animal. But for devotees of Krsna, smearing the body with soap made from the fat of a slaughtered animal is not the best way to get clean.

Which soaps have animal fat, and which don't? We checked with the makers of various American soaps, and here's what we found.

Company: Lever Brothers

Brands: Lux, Dove, Shield, Caress, Lifebuoy, Dove BeautyWash, Lever 2000, Lever 2000 Liquid.

Animal-free?: No. (They all contain sodium tallowate—beef fat.)

Company: Jergens

Brands: Jergens, Jergens Mild, Gentle Touch, Jergens Liquid, Body Shampoo, Aloe and Lanolin soap, Vitamin E and Lanolin soap, Jergens Mild Anti-bacterial Deodorant Soap.

Animal-free?: Body Shampoo, yes. All the others, no. (All the others contain tallow—100% beef.)

Company: Colgate-Palmolive

Brands: Vel, Octagon, Irish Spring, Cashmere Bouquet, Liquid Irish Spring, Palmolive Bar Soap, Palmolive Gold Deodorant Soap, Softsoap (several kinds).

Animal-free?: Vel and Softsoap Sensitive Skin Cleansing Liquid, yes. All others (including the other Softsoaps), no (or, for some products, unsure).

Company: The Dial Corporation

Brands: Dial, Tone, Spirit, Dial Plus, Dial Liquid, Pure and Natural, Boraxo Powdered Hand Soap.

Animal-free?: Boraxo Powdered Hand Soap, yes. All the others, no. (All the others have beef tallow.)

Company: Procter & Gamble

Brands: Zest, Coast, Lava, Ivory, Safeguard, Liquid Safeguard, Liquid Ivory, Oil of Olay, Kirk's Castile.

Animal-free?: Kirk's Castile, Liquid Ivory, and Liquid Safeguard, yes. All the others, no.

Company: Clear and Natural

Brands: Clear and Natural, Clear and Natural Liquid

Animal-free?: Yes

Company: Shaklee

Brands: Meadowblend Bar, Liquid Meadowblend.

Animal-free?: Yes.

Soaps for which the ingredients include tallow or tallowate are almost certainly made with animal fat. Soaps found at health-food stores are animal-free when so marked; otherwise you can't be sure. A special mention for Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Soaps—animal-free and much loved for the metaphysical rantings on the labels.

In the UK

Among animal-free soaps to be had in the UK: Pears Transparent Soap, ASDA Glycerine Soap, Boots Pure Vegetable Oil Soap, and any soap from The Body Shop or Beauty Without Cruelty.

Research by Tim Walter