- Reduction of washing temperatures (mainly Europe)
- More detergents without bleach (e.g., color detergents and liquid detergents)
- More compact detergent formulations
- More cost-effective enzymes
Enzymes are increasingly important to detergent formulators for a wide range of tasks, including laundry, automatic dishwashing, and cleaning of industrial equipment used in the food industry. Key trends in the market are driving their usage, but there are some considerations for producers using enzymes in detergents.
Many detergent brands are based on a blend of two or more enzymes - sometimes as much as eight different enzymes.The trend toward lower wash temperatures, in particular in Europe, has also increased the need for additional and more efficient enzymes. Starch and fat stains are relatively easy to remove in hot water, but the additional cleaning power provided by enzymes is required in cooler water.
The most widely used detergent enzymes are hydrolases, which remove protein, lipid, and polysaccharide soils. Many complex, stubborn stains come from a range of modern food products such as chocolate ice cream, baby food, desserts, dressings, and sauces. To help remove these stains as well as classic stains such as blood, grass, egg, and animal and vegetable fat, a number of different hydrolases are added to detergents.
Historically, proteases were the first of these to be used extensively to increase the effectiveness of laundry detergents. Cellulases contribute to cleaning and overall fabric care by maintaining, or even rejuvenating, the appearance of washed cotton-based garments through selective reactions not previously available when washing clothes with surfactants unamended with enzymes.
Some lipases can act as alternatives to current surfactant technology by targeting greasy lipid-based stains.
Recent investigations show that multi-enzyme systems may replace up to 25% of a laundry detergent’s surfactant system without compromising the cleaning effect. This leads to a more sustainable detergent that allows cleaning at a low wash temperature.
The obvious advantages of enzymes make them acceptable for meeting consumer demands. Due to their catalytic nature, they are ingredients requiring only a small space in the formulation of the overall product. This is of particular value at a time where detergent manufacturers are trying to make their products more compact.
Most of the energy spent during a household machine wash is used to heat the water. Thus, the most efficient way to save energy and thereby reduce carbon dioxide emissions is to lower washing temperatures.
The wide spectrum of enzymes that are available today, combined with a choice of appropriate other ingredients such as surfactants and bleaching systems specifically selected to work at low temperatures, has enabled manufacturers to produce cold water detergents.