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How does enzyme washing powder work?


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There are many washing powders on the market that contain enzymes. If you're shopping for enzyme washing powder, look for packaging that mentions "bio-based" or "plant-based" somewhere on the label.

Get to know your friendly and helpful enzymes! There are 6 common enzymes in the washing powder you will see on the laundry soap labels.

  1. Protease - breaks down protein-based stains
  2. Amylase - gets rid of starch or carbohydrate stains
  3. Cellulase - removes stains by breaking down cotton fibres
  4. Lipase - breaks down fat-based stains
  5. Manganese - gets rid of food-based stains
  6. Pectinase - removes stains from fruits and other similar substances

Why are enzyme washing powders used for washing our clothes?

First of all, here’s brief science lesson to understand why some “natural” washing powder use enzymes to clean our clothes. Let’s take a look at what enzymes do so you can read and understand the labels on all washing powder packaging. 

Enzymes are naturally occurring substances that act as a catalyst for certain biochemical reactions. When enzymes are in washing powders, certain types can target specific types of stains and break the soiled mass into smaller molecules that eventually wash away. 

The most important distinction here is to understand is that:

  1. many “natural” laundry soaps use biological enzymes, and
  2. “non-enzyme” on non-biological laundry soap uses chemicals that have been created in a lab. 

Simple right? Not so fast! One special note is that laundry soaps that have the word “natural” or “natural enzymes” might also add chemicals. The main thing here is to be an informed consumer as to make the best decision for you and your family when it comes to the ingredients in all laundry detergents.

What all of this means for you and the health and wellbeing of your family, is that you now have a choice to purchase the bio-based enzyme-based washing powder or the ones made with chemicals in a lab. Both will get your clothes clean so let’s take a deeper look.

What does all this mean for the clothes?

So, are enzyme detergents harmful to the clothes or anything else that gets washed in the washing machine?  Since enzymes are commonly used in many laundry detergents, they are safe to use on most fabrics. If you're very concerned about a specific clothing item, test the detergent first by rubbing a drop or two in an inconspicuous area of the article of clothing to see how the enzyme-based detergent reacts an enzyme washing powder helps lift oil stains from clothing as well as grease and grass stains. 

Additionally, if you need to wash certain articles of clothing that appear extremely soiled, you can do an enzyme pre-soak to help break down stains before you place the item(s) into the washing machine. You can do this with an enzyme-based pre-soak and lukewarm water. Just be sure that you follow the directions on the packaging and read your clothing's recommended care before doing this.

What does all this mean for my family?

Some people experience rashes or other less than desirable effects from the harsher chemical laundry detergent from days gone by that our parents and grandparents used. If this is the case, it often makes sense to opt for the most natural ingredients for those who have any chemical sensitivities and for baby clothes and diapers.  

Also, clothes washed in biological enzyme washing powders can be washed on the lower temperature setting, thus saving money on energy costs to heat the water. Also, enzyme detergents can clean clothing more effectively with less washing powder—another cost saving.

We hope you enjoyed our tips on the enzymes detergent effect. Don’t forget to check out our other laundry and cleaning tips such as how to dry clothes, how to clean white trainers and how to decipher laundry symbols.