Enzymes have found an application in cleaning products for quite some time now. The advent of their use was in commercial laundry detergents. The motivating factor here was to find an alternative for fat, grease, and stain removal that was more environmentally friendly. Enzymes instead of alkaline ingredients that is, weak alkalinity versus high alkalinity. In addition it was desired to enhance the effectiveness of laundry detergents at lower temperatures.
Both goals have been achieved. Today, these goals have actually been far surpassed - instead of a temperature of 60°C one is usually just as effective at 40°C as one used to be at 95°C.
We have been using enzymes in our products for 3 decades. It began with our Formula 70 which has been replaced by a more modern, effective product for some years now.
Enzymes find their use in applications such as carpet and upholstery cleaning, stain removal, fire damage restoration, food processing, and many more.
For this reason we would like to give you a brief overview of their function.
Enzymes function as catalysts. This means that they unfold their working potential without being used up. They ensure that the process they are employed for comes to pass without changing themselves.
In layman's terms they work in the following manner: an enzyme makes it possible for insoluble dirt or stain causing substances to be split into smaller parts. These smaller parts are water soluble and can be removed by the cleaning product effortlessly.
Of course there is not only one enzyme that works for all substances. Currently four enzymes are being used in cleaning products: protease, lipase, amylase, and cellulase.
Protease is used for protein containing substances and en-sures their removal. Lipase makes fatty substances water soluble. Amylase achieves the same for starch containingsubstances.
Cellulase is used for cotton containning textiles and materials: it splits the cotton balls off the material thereby making it smoother.
The question that arises from this list is: can all four en-zymes be used in one product? The answer to this question is a restricted YES.
One can use all four enzymes in a powdery product. As soon as this product is dissolved in water the enzymes are stable for a limited time only.
The reason for this is simple enough: enzymes are proteins. Therefore the protease destroys all other enzymes given enough time. However, as most stains contain proteins, the use of protease is virtually mandatory.
In powdery products the use of all four is possible. How about in liquid products? It is possible to protect a second enzyme from the protease. This is also called buffering. Usually the second enzyme formulated into a product is lipase.
The use of two enzymes ensures a very high effectiveness when it comes to cleaning power and stain removal. In addition the enzymes are continuously improved by their manufacturers in order to increase their effectivenss, especially regarding the time they need to work.
In general the following guideline applies for the use of en-zyme containing products: dissolve in warm to hot water. Additionally they are usually contained in pH neutral or slightly alkaline products. How effective then are enzymes under other conditions, such as cold water or a higher pH?
Figure 1 shows the activity (or effectiveness) of protease, lipase and amylase at different temperatures. It is immediately obvious that each enzyme unfolds its maximum activity at a different temperature.
For the lipase lukewarm water, around 25°C, is already sufficient to be around 100%. The lipase has an activity of about 80% at 55°C. For the amylase 60°C are necessary to attain an activity of 80%. This allows the conclusion that for liquid products one can get the maximum activity with temperature of 25 - 55°C as these products usually contain pro-tease and lipase. For the powdery products the guideline of up to 65°C is correct for ensuring good activity of all employed enzymes.
At this point it should be noted that CEBE products contain a higher concentration of enzymes than the amounts recommended by the manufacturer, in order to ensure that the effectiveness of the enzymes is sufficient even at lower temperatures.
Figure 2 shows the activity of the same enzymes at different pH values. In this figure it is clearly shown that all three enzymes unfold their maximum activity at a pH of around 9. Generally one can say that a pH-range of 7 to 10 is acceptable without having a considerable loss in activity.
Last but not least an often posed question is: if a product has been diluted for use how long is this solution stable?
Figure 3 gives an insight to the answer of this question. At a temperature of 25°C it shows the activity of a solution after 24 hours at different pH values. The figure clearly shows that in a pH range of 6 to 10 the loss in activity is negligible. It should be noted, however, that this is only the case for a solution of one enzyme. Should a solution contain more than one enzyme, one can assume that after a period of 24 hours only the protease will still have its full activity, as the others have been destroyed by the protease.
As mentioned above we have been employing enzymes in our products for many years. The table below lists some of our products that contain enzymes, which enzymes they contain, and their primary field of use.