The difference between a biological and a non biological detergent?

The difference between a biological and a non-biological detergent!

It seems as though everyone is confused about “The difference between a biological and a non-biological detergent?”

Some people insisting online that biological powders contain optical brighteners… what? and some that non-bios are better for the environment? Whilst other forum posts report bio formulas are more environmentally friendly, and that non bio’s the only safe washing formula for sensitive skin and so on…

Muddled? well, we’re not surprised, the information in the public domain certainly seems to be contradicting itself.

And, prior to working on a laundry brand, I honestly believed a non-bio was best for sensitive skin or babies clothes which is simply not true. Our bio is designed for superior rinsing and cleaning lifting everything that shouldn’t be on the fabric and allowing it to rinse away.

To give you some background

My eldest daughter Aimee was born with milk and egg allergy, and an incredibly troublesome skin condition, known as eczema.  I had to make the washing machine run an extra rinse cycle, every time we did a load of washing and she was wet wrapped daily.

Little did I know then that my investigation of formulas would lead us to find that a biological detergent was actually a far superior wash result. And, that because it didn’t contain preservatives and rinsed better it would also be gentle on skin.

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 detergent, or preservatives and conditioning ingredients in a fabric softener, is the main culprit. Much more likely to cause a reaction in laundry than a reaction to fragrances alone.

So, rather than avoiding a biological detergent if you have sensitive skin, I would advise against any product with bleaching agents or optical brighteners and avoid preservatives like methylisothiazolinone. And, never, ever use a separate fabric softener, 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 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.

detergent for men
Just add one scoop of Distinctive, no need to add a fabric softener or stain remover

Biological Detergent

Biological means the washing powder formula uses enzymes as a way of achieving a really deep down clean. This almost certainly means that you can wash at lower temperatures and with less water to achieve a really deep down clean. Different enzymes are suitable for different applications and fabrics. Lipase enzyme, for example, being more suitable as a degreaser, and others more general purpose or for removing particular dirt types such as the effect protease has on the protein molecules in foodstuffs.


Enzymes have a particular lock and key action, which you may remember from biology lessons.  They take a particular catalyst to start the reaction off.  In our case, this is both heat reaching the 30/40 degree point and the effect of the other ingredients as they dissolve to create a certain alkalinity level in the wash. The agents we use to achieve this process also aids the water softening meaning you need less detergent to achieve an effective clean with Distinctive.

The protease enzyme, one of the components in Distinctive, is great at breaking down the proteins in food stains, body waste such as urine, faeces and semen, some fats, blood and other naturally occurring everyday grime that we get on our clothes.

Distinctive’s superior formula means you won’t need any additional products when you wash. You don’t need to buy a fabric softener, as we have in-built cationic softening, (explained above), and unless you have a particular stain, such as an oil mark, you won’t ever need a stain remover either. If you notice a deep set food or mud stain then just pre-soak overnight with a little Distinctive in cool water before washing.

If you have tired old whites then a whitener product added occasionally to an all-white load will work wonders and is better than a costly accident damaging expensive bedding or clothing if you use a laundry product that has a whitening effect.

Sensitive skins really are no more likely to react to a bio, as a non-bio, but there is no reason for the big players in the washing industry to re-educate the public, as they have bios and non-bios on the shelves.

A bio product can contain optical brighteners (UV dyes that reflect light and make a product appear whiter than it is) or it can be without. Optical brighteners are great for whites as you can imagine, but they leave a permanent change as a build up on a coloured or delicate item that makes it look a little faded and patchy. The look is as if the item has aged very quickly. You’ll see the UV speckles on other peoples clothing, (like dandruff) if you are under strobe lights in a nightclub.

Some washing formulas will also contain harsh bleaching agents – again, ours doesn’t for a reason, we want to look after mixed and expensive designer fibers in one easy washing load.

New Laundry powders in Europe have to be compliant with being fully biodegradable and phosphate free (2015 Laundry regulations).

In Distinctive Washing powder all of our surfactants, (washing chemicals) are 100% environmental.  It is something we are super proud of!

Non Biological Detergent

Non Biological means no enzymes, so the cleaning chemicals need to be harsher and usually rely on hot water as much as the chemicals to get the grease and grime off fabric. All the years I used a non-bio, thinking it was best for my daughter’s skin and little did I know that the spray on stain remover that I had to use on everything in order to remove food stains, would have contained enzymes as well as bleach and oxidising agents.

There are plenty of non-bios on the market that clean perfectly well at high temperatures but none will outperform a bio in cooler water, and that is the reason most laundry experts prefer a bio because it’s the product that is washing your clothes rather than the hot water or worse – harsh chemicals.

All we’ve done is go back to basics, with the addition of some clever laundry science.

We created a superior formula that washes and rinses superbly at low temperatures without the addition of any optical brighteners or bleaching agents – thus making it entirely colour safe and as gentle as a formula can be to skin.


Fragrance, on the other hand, can sometimes cause an allergy.  Aimee doesn’t react to our formula though she used to react to fabric softeners from household leading brands. Unfortunately her skin does still react to lots of things and even sitting on mown grass in the summer causes her to flare, so I’d be very confident in suggesting it to anyone with sensitive skin to trial and we have already had repeat purchases from a number of men and women who are very excited to find something that smells so amazing on their laundry.

Distinctive washing powder perfect for even the most sensitive skins

So remember, if you have a super stained item that’s white that needs a bit of a boost, you can just add a bit of a specialist whitener product to that one load. But importantly, if you don’t, you won’t be damaging those expensive items when you wash them if you accidentally wash the wrong things together.

I hope we might have provided you with help in answering your query what’s the difference between a biological and non-biological detergent in a relatively simple way. But, if you have any further questions please do email

For fragrance, choice have a look here