Enzymes are a kind of protein that occur naturally in the body, but have also been engineered for use in commercial cleaning products for many decades. They work by speeding up chemical reactions. When used in cleaning products, they can help dissolve stains attached to clothes or dishes by converting them into substances that are more easily removed in the cleaning process. Four types of enzymes are commonly used in laundry products to remove stains: protease, amylase, lipase and mannanase. Protease is effective against protein, amylase attacks starch, lipase helps to break down fat so it's water-soluble, and mannanase targets sugar compounds.
Which ecostore cleaning products contain enzymes?
We use enzymes in our Extra Clean range (Extra Clean Laundry Powder, Extra Clean Laundry Liquid, Extra Clean Laundry Soaker) and in our Dishwasher Tablets and Dishwasher Powder. We do not add enzymes to our standard Laundry, Dish or Cleaning ranges if you wish to use enzyme-free products.
How does ecostore use enzymes?
We previously avoided using enzymes in laundry products because of suspected risk of respiratory or skin irritation, particularly in those more prone to these sensitivities. This was in our line with our precautionary principle - if there's any doubt about an ingredient's safety, we seek a safer alternative. We've recently done a full assessment of the risks associated with enzymes and have updated our stance – concluding that enzymes used in cleaning products have an excellent safety profile, with little ability to cause adverse responses in people.
Enzymes are now now coated in a waxy substance to make them heavier and less likely to be airborne, effectively removing the potential for airborne respiratory allergy. Granulation of enzymes has resulted in no widely reported cases of respiratory allergy or other allergen responses. During the manufacturing process, strict limits on airborne exposure (based on a defined minimal effect limit of 60ng active enzyme protein/m(3)) along with regular air and health monitoring, can ensure occupational safety for workers.
Extensive testing in large scale human studies has shown no evidence of the ability of enzymes in cleaning products to induce skin sensitisation. The large molecular weight of enzymes suggest they would not be able to penetrate intact skin. Any contact with wash solutions is not linked to significant irritation or allergy and residues on fabrics are so low they are not known to materially contribute to any skin effects. For those who still have concerns or very sensitive skin, we recommend you use our Ultra Sensitive product range.
The combined evidence of substantial research has been sufficient to establish a long history of safe consumer use of enzyme containing products.
When it comes to their environmental profile, enzymes have several good attributes. They are readily biodegradable and, when used in cleaning products, are inactivated to a large extent under washing or cleaning conditions, minimising their impact on the environment. Utilising enzymes can also improve cleaning performance, increasing efficiency and reducing the amount of water and other surfactants required.
Other names: Protease, Amylase, Lipase, Mannanase, Subtilisin
Chemical class: Proteins
Basketter, D., Berg, N., Broekhuizen, C., Fieldsend, M., Kirkwood, S., Kluin, C., Mathieu, S., & Rodriguez, C. (2012). Enzymes in cleaning products: an overview of toxicological properties and risk assessment/management. Regulatory toxicology and pharmacology : RTP, 64(1), 117–123. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yrtph.2012.06.016
HERA Human & Environmental Risk Assessment. (2007). Subtilisins (Protease). Retrieved on November 26, 2021 from https://www.heraproject.com/files/22-F-07_PROTEASE_HERA_Final%20Edition%20(unsecured%20-%20PDFA-1b).pdf
HERA Human & Environmental Risk Assessment. (2005). Amylases, Cellulases and Lipases. Retrieved on November 26, 2021 from https://www.heraproject.com/files/38-F-Hera_Bridging_document_28.10.05.pdf
Basketter, D., English, J., Wakelin, S. and White, I. (2008), Enzymes, detergents and skin: facts and fantasies. British Journal of Dermatology, 158: 1177-1181. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2133.2008.08561.x