Laundry Detergents That Use Enzymes

Enzymes are proteins that speed up chemical reactions. They are present in nearly every living thing, and are necessary to biological reactions. Enzymes are also useful in cleaning. The proteins "eat" odor and stain-causing bacteria, a feat normally accomplished with synthetic, chemical cleansers. These catalytic proteins are featured in a number of laundry detergents, their inclusion designed to make cleaning easier and more environmentally friendly.

A woman adding laundry detergent into a machine (Image: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

Arm and Hammer

Arm and Hammer's website advertises two laundry detergent products that contain enzymes. Among them are Arm and Hammer plus OxiClean and Arm and Hammer Essentials. Both of these detergents are available in their Power Gel line of cleansers. The manufacturers claim these products contain multiple enzymes for added stain removal power. The Material Safety Data Sheet for the Arm and Hammer Plus OxiClean detergent states that the product contains zero to 2 percent enzyme mixture based on the weight of the product. The MSDS for the Essentials detergent makes no mention of enzymes. The MSDS for Arm and Hammer Powdered laundry detergents, including the phosphate, nonphosphate, fragrance free, color-safe bleach and fabric softener versions, lists the product as containing less than 1 percent of a protease enzyme preparation.

Ultra Plus

Ultra Plus, a laundry detergent manufactured by Sears, claims to have dual enzyme cleaning power, though it is not specifically stated what enzymes are used. Made for use in all machines, Ultra Plus also boasts no dyes or perfumes and is based on a nonphosphate formula, making it safe for use with septic systems. Sears provides no information on the concentration of enzymes in their laundry detergent, nor the specific contents, making the claim of enzymes unverifiable save for the manufacturer's claims.

Tide

Not every type of Tide brand detergent contains enzymes. Tide's original liquid formula contains three enzymes, as stated by the website of the manufacturer, Proctor and Gamble. Tide Original contains protease, amaylase and mannanase enzymes. Among the other varieties of Tide that contain enzymes are Tide Pure Essentials and Tide Stain Release, both of which contain protease and amylase enzymes. It's worth noting that only the powdered version of the stain release formula of Tide contains these enzymes -- they are not listed on the ingredients list for the liquid version provided by Proctor and Gamble. Because enzymes dissolve bacteria that cause odor and stains, it is possible to wash the laundry at lower temperatures than one might normally. Tide Liquid Coldwater laundry detergent contains four enzymes designed for this purpose: protease, amylase, mannanase and pectinase. Conversely, the powdered version of Tide Coldwater does not contain any enzymes, as per the manufacturer's ingredients listing.

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