Bio versus Non Bio Detergent

Bio versus non Bio Detergent

Which is best? Let’s get straight to the facts.

Non Bio Detergent

Is a detergent mixture that doesn’t contain any enzyme content. They typically need hotter water and stronger surfactant chemicals to wash well, and contain a blend of ingredients designed to do different things in the wash, such as the addition of optical brighteners and bleaching ingredients to help lift the dirt and stains.

A Bio Detergent

Biological means the detergent contains plant based enzyme content. Enzymes are manufactured in large vats and are added to detergents in very small quantities, as little as 0.1% of the formulation. They typically need the catalyst of both temperature and alkalinity to start work and remain active for the duration of the wash. The enzymes say in-active, in a very safe format as dry powder. In liquids it is also usually temperature that starts the reaction off, so beware to keep your bottle out of direct sunlight. The surfactants and enzyme content lift the substrates from the fabric and hold them in suspension away from he fabric until they are rinsed away. They do not remain active once they go down the drain.

Enzymes target different things.

If you remember from your days at school Protease enzyme works perfectly at lifting protein stains such as food stuffs and bodily grime. Lipase works well on fats.

Contrary to 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 spend equal amounts of time in the water and detergent mixture. A modern machine really does fill with very little water compared to 10 years or more ago.

It is a huge misconception that a short wash programme is more cost effective if your machine is 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 that break down faster in the natural environment. The enzyme content is tough enough to lift the stains but is only active for the duration of the wash. Distinctive washing powder 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 two decades 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.

Distinctive washing powder - with scoop

Expert Opinion

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 remove urine and faeces properly from fabric.

If you are washing for older people, anyone that frequents hospital, or works with animals please consider a bio. It really will lift all traces of grime.

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.

Why we should all avoid softeners – professional laundries and people with quality clothing avoid them.