Enzymes have been used to greatly improve detergents as well as turning washing and cleaning detergents environmentally friendly. Since they're biodegradable, they are a great alternative to powerfully harmful and toxic cleaning detergents and also allow you to wash with lower water temperatures. To name a few of the benefits: improved cleaning―stains are removed a lot faster and without ruining the material, shorter washing times and lower water temperatures necessary for washing, less water/energy consumption as a result and in the end, less environmental impact.
What Are Enzymes Detergents?
Enzymes are proteins that every living organism produces in order to assist in chemical reaction that without the proteins would occur at a far slower rate (or possibly not occur at all!). Some enzymes like lipase, cellulose, protease and amylase have been used in washing detergents for over 40 years to help fight against stains without harmfully damaging fabric. These enzymes have helped detergents become more effective in getting rid of nasty stains and in lower temperatures which helps save water and energy (because less time is needed in the washing machine) and preserve the longevity of the clothing. Below are some laundry detergents which contain enzymes.
1. Arm and Hammer
Arm and Hammer have two laundry detergents that contain enzymes―OxiClean and Essentials. Both are available in the Power Gel section of their detergents, which they claim contain anywhere up to 2% of enzymes depending on the weight of the product.
2. Ultra Plus
Ultra Plus by Sears claims to use two enzymes in its detergent even though they don't specifically say which enzymes are used. Manufactured to be used in all kinds of washing machines, the website further states that no dyes or perfumes are used in Ultra Plus which makes it one of the most "natural" detergents and safe to use with septic systems.
It's important to note that not every Tide brand contains enzymes. The original liquid formula contains three different enzymes: protease, mannanase and amylase. Other types of Tide detergent (powder versions) that contain enzymes include Stain Release and Pure Essentials, which contain dual enzymes of protease and amylase. Tide even created a detergent that enables people to wash their laundry with cold water―the Tide Liquid Coldwater detergent has four enzymes for this reason: pectinase, protease mannanase and amylase. Note: the powder version of Tide Coldwater does not contain any enzymes.
Are Enzymes Safe?
1. The Nature of Enzymes
The great thing about enzymes is that they are proteins, which means that they're totally biodegradable. What does that mean? It means they can't harm the environment, plants or animals―they're non-toxic. If accidentally ingested by a child, they're harmless, which is more than can be said about normal washing detergent! However, similar to a lot of other proteins, they may also cause respiratory allergies for some people when breathed into your body in large amounts, often or for long periods of time. It should be noted however, that this doesn't pose a threat to individuals who use the enzymes in their laundry detergents, but to people who work in the factories that produce it―and only if they don't handle the enzymes properly.
2. Enzymes and Respiratory Allergy
Respiratory allergy is an allergic response that some people have in response to proteins like cat/dog hairs, pollen, house dust and the likes. Not everyone has these allergies, and intensity of the allergy varies greatly from one person to the next. As we said above, enzymes are proteins which make some people prone to allergic reactions. However, cases of respiratory allergies have only been reported among people who have to work with the enzymes and their injuries are most usually a result of not handling the enzymes properly as they should.
Tips for Using Enzyme Detergent
1. Follow All Instruction Steps
Always follow what the manufacturer of the brand tells you to do. Don't use any more or any less than recommended. Most enzyme detergents will include a first step of flushing out the channels by using about 500ml of enzyme detergent and water. By skipping this step, you may be affecting how effective the detergent is and also release a large amount of contamination during the soaking stage. For the detergent to be able to properly disinfect, you need to follow every step properly. If you skip a step, you will be risking the detergents efficiency.
2. Use to Eliminate Biofilm and Bioburden
The main reason of contamination in laundry is known as biofilm. This is a type of target soil for removal from endoscopes (as well as bioburden). New enzyme detergents have been manufactured to specifically remove this outermost layer (the most difficult area) of biofilm so that the rest can be eliminated more easily.
3. Use New Detergent to Avoid Contamination
Regardless of what type of enzyme detergent you use, it's important to use new detergents after each wash to avoid contamination and ensure optimal effectiveness. Just as you'd empty the sink and refill it with new water and detergent when cleaning the dirty dishes, it's important to change the water and enzyme detergent otherwise it may break down.
Some people do this accidentally because they don't pay attention to the manufacturer's advice or simply to save detergent and money. However, it's imperative you don't reuse the detergent for more than one wash. Enzyme detergent is not a reusable kind; it's a single-use item which means you can only use it once.