The Laundry IndustryThe Laundry Industry is made up of laundry detegents and soap. The need for laundry detergents is increasing and the need to produce laundry detergents in a responsible manner to the environment is of paramount importance.
SoapSoap cleans because each soap molecule consists of a hydrocarbon chain and a carboxylic group (fatty acids) that perform two important functions. The carboxylate end of the soap molecule is hydrophilic, meaning that it is attracted to water, while the hydrocarbon end of the molecule is hydrophobic (repelled by water) and attracted to the oil and grease in dirt. While the hydrophobic end of a soap molecule attaches itself to dirt, the hydrophilic end attaches itself to water. The dirt attached to the carboxylate end of the molecule is chemically dragged away from the clothes being cleaned and into the wash water.
Proper agitation and rinsing of clothes improve the cleaning process. When these chemicals react with soap, they form an insoluble curd called a precipitate that is difficult to rinse out. The precipitate leaves visible deposits on clothing and makes fabric feel stiff. Precipitate formation may occur in relatively soft water over a period of time.
Laundry detergentLaundry detergent is a synthetic combination of chemiclas that functions much like a traditional soap, but with significant improvements. Unlike soap, a detergent when formulated correctly can be effective in hard water. The hydrocarbons used in soap generally come from plants or animals, but those used in detergent can be derived from crude oil. Adding sulfuric acid to the processed hydrocarbon produces a molecule similar to the fatty acids in soap. The addition of an alkali to the mixture creates a surfactant molecule that will not bond with the minerals in hard water, thus avoiding the accumulation of precipitates.
In addition to surfactants, modern detergents contain several other components. The most significant components are builders, chemicals which serve several purposes. Most importantly, they increase the efficiency of the surfactant. They also sequester minerals in hard water, meaning that they hold them in solution(complexing), preventing them from precipitating out. Furthermore, builders can emulsify oil and grease into tiny globules that can be washed away. Some, like sodium silicate, inhibit corrosion and help assure that the detergent will not damage a washing machine. Still other builders contribute to the chemical balance of the wash water, ensuring effective washing.
Modern detergents have several other ingredients including antiredeposition agents, chemicals that help prevent soil from settling back on washed clothes. Fluorescent whitening agents are also common, they act by converting invisible ultraviolet light into visible blue light, these help to maintain brightness or whiteness. Oxygen bleaches such as sodium perborate improve the detergency of the mixture, especially in low-phosphate or non-phosphate products, as well as helping to remove some types of stains. Processing aids such as sodium sulphate are also used to prevent caking and to standardize product density.
Enzymes and perfumes are common in commercial detergents. Enzymes break down some stains to make them easier to remove and are an essential ingredient in various pre-soak products used to treat heavily soiled clothes prior to laundering. Perfumes or fragrances cover the odor of the dirt and any chemical smell from the detergent itself. Suds control agents also have a role in detergents - too many suds can cause mechanical problems with a washing machine.
Enzymes raise the perfomance of primary and secondary detergency in laundry products. In the past, enzymes were regarded as performance aids but now more especially in a multienzyme solution they offer a possibility of radical formulation changes. Enzymes synergy in a multienzyme solution boosts individual enzymes performance to offer basic detergency on complex food stains that were previously targeted by large quantities of traditional detergent chemicals. Enzymes used in laundry detergents act on the basic components of soil and stains so they can be washed away more easily. Since one enzyme molecule can act on many substrate molecules (such as soils and stains), a small amount of enzymes added to a laundry detergent can provide a significant cleaning benefit to the consumer.
The benefits of using enzymes in a multienzyme detergent are highlighted below:- Enable low wash temperature and compaction
- Reduce/replace traditional detergent ingredients like surfactants and builders with readily biodegradable enzymes
- Improve overall washing performance
- Stabilise formulation costs (enzymes costs are not directly affected by crude oil price fluctuation)
- Offer new consumer claims
Enzymes play a major role in the following consumer claims:
WhitenessEnzymatic whiteness is a revolutionary solution for laundry detergents that provides whiteness through preventing soil redeposition and thus fabric graying. Furthermore, some enzymes are able to modify cotton fibers,thereby making them smoother. This does not only reduces the uptake of soil, but also liberates soil particles that are stuck to the fiber surfaces, thereby further increasing the whiteness. The following factors are contributors to graying of clothes.
Incomplete soil removalDetergents often leave behind residues of various organic soils that may contain starch, protein and fat. These residues are often invisible to begin with, but over time they become more and more visible. This phenomenon is not just accumulation of soil, but is also caused by increased stickiness of fabric fibers that leads to increased uptake of dirt. Enzymes counteract this effect by hydrolyzing soil residues in the laundry.
Redeposition of particulate soilsWhen washing with low amounts of water (as is typical in Europe), redeposition of soil is difficult to avoid. Small dirt particles are entrapped by microfibrils on cotton fiber surfaces and over time will produce a grayish look. Carbon is particularly troublesome because it is black and abundant in urban areas. Cleaning cellulases can be used to prevent this kind of redeposition of soil, and they also release already entrapped soil. In this way, the white appearance of the laundry is maintained.
Fuzz FormationRepeated washing and wearing may give white cotton a fuzzy look. The fuzz has an adverse effect on whiteness because the small fibers protruding from the fabric tend to attract particulate soils. Color care cellulases reduce the formation of fuzz and so assist in maintaining the original whiteness of the fabric.
- Enzymes efficiently enhance the whiteness performance of laundry detergents because they have a unique whiteness effect that is superior to that of other ingredients.
- Enzymes for whiteness maintenance make laundry detergents attractive for consumers because they deliver a very clean white wash.
- Enzymes narrow the gap between powder detergents with bleach and liquid detergents without bleach because they maintain whiteness without bleaching.
- Enzymes for whiteness maintenance are ideal for supporting selling claims and brand building.
- Enzymes create environmentally sustainable and peak-performing detergents by replacing chemicals with nature's own efficient ingredients.