bio VS non bio detergent
It seems as though everyone is confused. So let’s get straight to the facts.
Non bio is a detergent mixture that doesn’t contain any enzyme content. Non bio detergent formulas typically need hotter water and stronger chemicals to wash well and contain a blend of ingredients designed to do different things in the wash such as optical brighteners and bleaching ingredients to help lift the dirt and stains.
A bio on the other hand contains plant based enzyme content that is designed to lift the substrates, (soiling) from fabric and hold it in suspension in the water until the rinsing phase, where the dirty water goes down the drain. Enzymes are typically manufactured in large vats and are added to detergents in small quantities, often as little as 2% of the formulation.
Bio Detergents typically work at much lower temperatures and are active for the duration of the wash before becoming de-natured and die off. In powder form they are held in-active until added to luke warm water. In liquids it is usually temperature that starts the reaction off. Different enzymes target different things, but if you remember from your days at school Protease enzyme works perfectly at lifting protein stains such as food stuffs and bodily grime.
Contrary to some peoples beliefs, Bio detergents work really well with longer slower wash programme settings, which is the way modern machines achieve their top environmental ratings by using much less water for the overall wash and therefore washing for longer so all the fabric has chance to tumble over and be wetted equally. A modern machine really does fill with very little water compared to 10 years or more ago.
It is a huge misconception that a shorter wash programme is more cost effective if your machine is fairly modern – long and slow settings use far less water and energy overall.
So do you think non-bios are better for the environment ?
No this is definitely not a fact. With enzyme content the formula typically uses less harmful chemicals. The enzyme content is tough enough to lift the stains but is only active for the duration of the wash. Distinctive washing powders biological content is designed for superior rinsing and cleaning, lifting everything that shouldn’t be on the fabric and allowing it to rinse away.
So be careful reading forum posts as there is so much misinformation out there.
Prior to working on a laundry brand, over a decade ago, I honestly believed a non-bio was best for sensitive skin or babies clothes . But that’s because our Mums had no access to modern enzyme formulas, they relied on washing at extreme heat to clean clothing.
Experts agree that a biological detergent can be just as good if not better for sensitive skin, there are lots of scientific and medical papers and journals to prove this. Enzymes without a doubt leave fewer chemical residues on the fabric than a non-bio. Sensitive skins, really are no more likely to react to a bio. In the UK in 2015, the National Health Service revisited the advice provided to mothers for washing newborn clothing and nappies, because of the overwhelming scientific evidence. They no longer advise parents to wash nappies and babies clothing with a non-bio, which I think is a great result as only a bio will repel urine and faeces properly from fabric.
If you are washing for older people or anyone that frequents hospital, or works with animals consider a bio for the same reason – it really will repel the odours and grime properly without needing a hot wash.
It is the combination of ingredients in the detergent that determine the likelihood of reactions for people with sensitive skin. Often the preservative content in a liquid or sheet detergent, or preservatives and conditioning ingredients in a fabric softener, is the main culprit. Much more likely to cause a reaction to someone’s skin.
I would advise against any product with bleaching agents other than percarbonates. Definitely stay clear of optical brighteners, (the uv dyes that make whites look brighter) and avoid preservatives like methylisothiazolinone. Ditch the fabric softener too, which is added in the wash via the last rinse compartment and never truly has the opportunity to be properly washed out of clothing.
Little did we know in 2002 that our daughter Aimee’s allergic reactions were almost certainly made worse by fabric softeners and that if I’d simply cut them out altogether, I could have saved myself the water wastage of running the wash programme twice.
Have a read here about softeners if you are interested as it is not the only reason professional laundries or people with quality clothing should avoid them.