Enzymes: why your laundry needs them

Enzymes: why your laundry needs them

Thanks to enzymes, there’s no need to let that glass of red wine or blob of body lotion destroy your favourite shirt – because those hungry little critters in enzyme-powered laundry detergents are on the case!

Enzymes are by-products of all living organisms – proteins that act as catalysts and create biochemical reactions. Take the enzymes in your gut, for example. When your body needs to turn one substance (food) into something else (poop), it uses enzymes to help the process by breaking down the organic compounds that make up the fats, carbohydrates and proteins that we eat. And they do the same job in our laundry too.

Enzymes have been used in laundry detergents for a while but in limited types and tiny amounts not tailored to tackle the wide range of stains and muck we humans can get on our clothes. Advanced enzyme blends on the other hand contain a mix of specific enzymes that target specific types of stains.



These innovations in biotechnology are not to be feared. Using enzymes can actually help reduce or eliminate these nasty chemicals commonly found in detergents.

  • Petrochemical surfactants, commonly used as the main cleaning agent in laundry detergents
  • Synthetic polymers, which act as ‘anti-redeposition agents’ – with large molecules that get between the soil and the fabric to stop it from sticking
  • Chlorine bleaching agents, traditionally used to whiten clothes – but are unable to properly get rid of common stains the way enzymes can



So far, you may have avoided using enzyme-powered laundry detergents – and heard that detergents with enzymes cause skin irritations. But studies show sensitivities are usually caused instead by fragrance or dye. Or that enzymes in detergent damage your clothing over time. Again, product testing demonstrates the risk is low – and damage may be the result of the washing machine and how it’s loaded. For example, delicates washed with heavy jeans are likely to come out the worse for wear.

While enzymes are safe to use on most fabrics, most experts recommend you test first by rubbing a drop or two in an inconspicuous area of the garment. For most stains, letting them dry or heating them up can make them set and harder to shift. The best time to treat a stain is when it first happens. If you need to wash very soiled items, an enzyme detergent pre-soak in lukewarm water can help break down stains before you pop them in the machine.



Just like we have our favourite foods, so do enzymes. And luckily for us, they tend to prefer the dressing to the salad. Biological detergents can contain a wide range of enzymes in their ingredient list. But there are five basic types, which together add up to the product’s overall cleaning ability.

An effective stain-removing detergent with enzymes should contain:

  • Amylase: which eats starchy foods like rice, mashed potatoes and pasta (mmm, comfort carbs)
  • Mannanase: this laundry enzyme goes for gums as you find in ice cream
  • Lipase: focuses on fats to remove oil from fast food, butter and cheese
  • Pectate lyase: specifically targets the pectin component of wine, juice and fruit
  • Protease: breaks down protein-based stains like chocolate, blood or milky coffee


Ultra Power 3 in 1 is ecostore’s high-performance laundry detergent and stain remover, formulated with this mix of 5 advanced PlantActive™ enzymes that have been tested and shown to boost stain-fighting by 20%*.

These renewable enzymes work together to lift even dried-on stains. And if used correctly, they won’t fade colours in natural fibres like silk, wool, linen and cotton. A word of warning though, cotton or silk velvets can be extra tricky, so whatever detergent you use, we recommend proceeding with care.

Tip: Remember to follow the directions on the detergent pack and read your clothing’s care label first. Because the most sustainable clothes in your wardrobe are the ones that last.

*Results based on front loader performance reports in comparison to regular ecostore laundry liquid

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