Today it seems like you hear the word “enzyme-based” in lots of different applications. From oven cleaners to carpet stain removers, enzyme biotechnology is now a part of everyday life. Enzymes are everywhere! But what are enzymes, exactly, and what makes them so special?
What Are Enzymes?
First of all, enzymes really are everywhere—and they have been for quite some time. Enzymes are natural. All living organisms produce these proteins, which function as a catalyst to help control metabolism and growth. Enzymes control the rate of certain chemical reactions and help these and other processes to occur more efficiently.
Why Are Enzymes So Popular in Household Products?
Enzymes are very useful ingredients, particularly in cleaning and laundry products that aim to be Earth-friendly as well as effective. Here’s why:
- Enzymes quickly break down soils, stains and odors so they can be washed away more easily.
- A very small amount of enzyme can provide a significant cleaning benefit, offsetting the large amounts of conventional chemical ingredients that may typically be required.
- Naturally occurring, enzymes may be sustainably produced through the fermentation of various fungi and bacteria.*
- Best of all, enzymes in cleaning and laundry products ultimately help reduce overall chemical exposure to our bodies and chemical burden on the planet!
In laundry detergents, enzymes help remove stains and odors, increase whiteness, eliminate fabric pills and help prevent resoiling. Enzymes in the formula also allow for shorter wash cycles and lower water temperatures. The result? Clean, fresh laundry and energy savings too!
How Are Enzymes Better than Harsh Chemicals?
The introduction of enzymes into the formulas of cleaning and laundry products has been a significant game-changer. Now fewer harsh chemicals are necessary, such as lye or sodium hydroxide, so your family and the environment stay safer. This is especially good news as it relates to getting your clothes, towels and sheets their cleanest—since all of these items come into frequent contact with your skin!
- Enzymes are natural, rather than petroleum-based.
- They’re biodegradable and milder than harsh surfactants.
- They work in all temperatures to quickly remove ground-in dirt and stains.
- A single enzyme molecule can act on many substrate molecules (i.e., soils and stains), so just a small amount of enzyme in a laundry detergent is able to provide increased cleaning power in a more compact product.
- Enzymes will not fade colors or reduce the integrity of fabrics.
- Years of testing have proven enzymes to be extremely safe for humans and the environment with proven low toxicity.
Here’s a quick look at some enzyme groups and their specific areas of stain-fighting expertise.
Proteases break down protein stains, like grass, egg, blood, coffee, tea, dairy, wine and fat, as well as odors.
Amylases help break down starch-based stains, like those from pasta and potato dishes, and cereals.
Lipases accelerate the breakdown of fatty and oily stains. They help remove body stains on cuffs and collars, as well as stains from lipstick, butter, gravy, vegetable oils and other non-mineral oils and fats.
Cellulases help maintain brightness by reducing pilling and fuzzing that can trap dirt. In other words they help your whites and brights stay that way.
Mannanases break down food stains caused by thickening agents like guar gum and locust bean gum.
Pectinases disintegrate stains from fresh fruits and berries, as well as processed foods, tomato-based foods and sauces, jelly, and more.
- List of Enzyme Cleaners | Hunker
- Enzymes | About Cleaning Products
- Enzyme Science | About Cleaning Products
- Laundry Detergent Ingredients And How They Work
- How Does Enzyme Biotechnology Impact My Everyday Life?