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Enzymes -- What are they? How do they work in laundry cleaning? Why do they work?

We hear considerable talk about enzyme detergent washing these days. Actually, the technology has been around for a long time, but like everything else, it runs in cycles. I’m often asked about the benefits thatenzymes can have for laundries. 

If the soil conditions are right, wash operations are conducive to slightly longer formulas and high temperature water usage is a concern, then enzymes may benefit your laundry operation.

However, I have yet to see heavily soiled items such as bar towels, aprons, table linens, etc., come out thoroughly clean without higher alkalinity and use of chlorine bleach. Regardless, there is a valuable place forenzymes when the conditions and expectations are correct. 

Detergent enzymes are large molecules made by bacteria. There are different types of enzymes used in laundry chemical formulations. One type, called protease, goes after protein soils; another type, which is effective against fat is called lipase. The third type, amylase, is used for carbohydrates (starches.) 

 When a laundry tries enzyme washing, everything changes in the wash process. In an enzyme wash there can be no contact with strong caustic solutions, chlorine or high water temperatures. If contact with these conditions occur, then the enzymes are damaged and become inactive.

Enzymes work by attacking soils and breaking them into small, loose fragments. With good detergency, the soil is then flushed away from the linen and down the sewer. Generally, when washing with enzyme detergents, the wash bath must be lengthened and ideal temperatures are between 125 degrees and 145 degrees F (depending on the manufacturer of the product.) The preflushes to an enzyme formula should remain to assist in getting loose soil out, so that when the enzyme detergent is added it can attack stains and the harder to remove embedded soils. If there is no high alkaline bath after the wash and a bleach bath is skipped, it is possible to cut back on some of the rinsing steps.

Match the conditions and soil types and you might find enzyme detergent wash formulations a benefit to your laundry.

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Textile Services Industry Gets National Spotlight

WILIMGTON, Mass. — Textile service executive Ronald Croatti recently appeared on the CBS-TV show “Undercover Boss.” Croatti is CEO of UniFirst Corp., in Wilmington, Mass. For most Americans watching “Undercover Boss” it was their first view inside a commercial laundry, which typically process between 10 million and 25 million pounds of uniforms, table linens, bed sheets, towels and more every year “The reusable textile services business is the original green industry,” said Ricci. “Commercial laundries reuse linen instead of filing landfills with disposable alternatives and continually discover new, innovative means to reduce energy consumption and recycle water. Our huge economies of scale allow laundries to use about two-thirds less water, energy and detergent than alternatives, such as washing at home, while hygienically cleaning textile products, improving disease control and reducing contamination.”