Enzymes help the speed and increase the performance of cleaning products. Most consumer laundry detergents contain enzymes to help remove stains, increase whiteness, eliminate fabric pills, and prevent re-soiling. The inclusion of enzymes in laundry detergents also allows for shorter wash cycles and lower wash temperatures while ensuring the desired cleaning result, thus, providing energy savings.[1]

Detergents contain different enzymes to target different stains, they are substrate-specific, targeting a specific active site, activate, then wash away.

Proteases break down proteins, eg. blood, egg, gravy, and other protein stains.

Amylases break down starches, and lipases break down fats and grease.[2]

Cellulases contribute to overall fabric care by rejuvenating or maintaining the new appearance of washed garments.[1]

Enzymes have been used in laundry products since the 1950s, are extremely carefully formulated, effective, safe and do not cause skin reactions.[3]

For more information on what is in detergents and the function of the raw materials see our information on Mainstream Detergents, Fragrance in Detergent, Optical Brighteners and Plant based, Sensitive & “Eco” Detergents, and the WashWise information sheet on Laundry Detergent Ingredients.


  1. Hans Sejr Olsen & Per Falholt, The role of enzymes in modern detergency <http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11743-998-0058-7>.
  2. Enzymes in washing powder <http://biotechlearn.org.nz/>.
  3. D.A. Basketter; J.S.C. English; S.H. Wakelin; I.R. White, Enzymes, Detergents and Skin: Facts and Fantasies <http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/575890>.