Thread Number: 38006
Bio vs. Non-Bio detergent
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Post# 565001   12/24/2011 at 04:49 (2,395 days old) by nrones ()        

Hello :)

I don't know this stuff, so I wanted to ask some of professionals here :D

What is the difference between bio and non-bio detergents?

Which is better, and why?

Thanks a lot indeed,

Post# 565002 , Reply# 1   12/24/2011 at 04:58 (2,395 days old) by foraloysius (Leeuwarden, the Netherlands)        

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I'm looking forward to responses from the British contingent on this question. I know bio detergent contain enzymes and non-bio don't. Interestingly those non-bio detergents in Europe are AFAIK only sold in the UK. At least in the Netherlands and in Germany I haven't seen non-bio detergents yet I think.

Post# 565003 , Reply# 2   12/24/2011 at 05:10 (2,395 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Long Story Short

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Ages ago the Unilever (or then Lever Brothers) makers of Persil in the UK decided they would cease production of the non-enzyme version and only produce detergents with the stuff. Well you would have thought someone had told the housewives and mothers of Great Britain to surrender their first born for slaughter. *LOL*

There were protests,letters written to the dailies and so forth by persons outraged by this action. Apparently there exsists within the damp confines of the UK many persons with or whom believe they have skin conditions bothered by enzymes.

In the end Unilever relented and that is why "Bio" vs "Non-Bio" is such a huge deal in the UK detergent market.

Mind you it is possible to find non-enzyme detergents all over the world, but they usually are middle or bottom tier products while top shelf versions (Persil, Tide, Dixan, etc) all contain enzymes. And for good reason.

Without enzymes certain soils and stains simply are impossible to shift. To compensate "non-bio" detergents sold in the UK usually contain higher levels of surfactants,bleaches and optical brighteners, but even then that normally will not shift all stains.

Post# 565004 , Reply# 3   12/24/2011 at 05:16 (2,395 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
To Be Fair

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There were some problems with workers at plants where enzyme detergents were made developing skin condition and or other health problems. The media latched on to this as enzymes being a health risk for the general public. In the end production methods were changed so workers weren't exposed to "enzyme dust" and also chemists developed coatings that kept the product rather deactivated until it came into contact with water.

Now there are and were persons who claim or claimed that enzyme residue on laundry would some how reanimate upon contact with moisture (sweat, urine, etc) and start attacking the wearers skin (human skin and hair are made from protein). This has been proven to be false in general. However it could also have meant someone's laundry habits needed a look at (poor rinsing and or using too much detergent).

Post# 565014 , Reply# 4   12/24/2011 at 08:14 (2,395 days old) by paulc (Edinburgh, Scotland)        

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My Dad was a worker who was affected by enzyme dust and had to leave his job at Lever Bros in the factory that made OMO in the 60's.

I use Persil Non Bio as it is the only detergent that hubby doesn't complain of the smell. I use the Tablets for whites and small and mighty liquid for colours and darks. I had an accident last night where I dropped a whole bottle of red wine on the kitchen floor and had to mop it up with white towels, Chucked them in the Miele with 2 Persil tablets on a 95deg wash and out they came spotless.

Post# 565017 , Reply# 5   12/24/2011 at 08:47 (2,395 days old) by PassatDoc (Orange County, California)        

@foraloysius: hopefully you speak English using the correct Received Pronunciation which you were taught in school. Please, none of this American dialect you may have learned from movies and television. ;) Just kidding but an English teacher who taught me in Nijmegen told the class there were NO worthwhile authors in the English language outside of the UK. No one in North America, South Africa, Australia, or NZ worth reading. His world view was as parochial as his OxBridge background.

(ps that Jesuit school in Nijmegen, Canisius College, is now under investigation for 100s cases of abuse during the 1960s-1970s. I was there when it was happening. Most of the victims were the boarding students, and it is quite likely that the day students--90% were day students--had no idea what was happening).

Was in London in May and all of the Ariel I saw for sale at Sainsburys had Actlift, their enzyme preparation. I went to a smallish Sainsbury "express" market, and possibly they didn't stock all varieties. I brought four boxes of Ariel back home. Both stores I visited were sold out of Persil Bio, but did have boxes of their non-Bio version.

Post# 565018 , Reply# 6   12/24/2011 at 08:55 (2,395 days old) by PassatDoc (Orange County, California)        

@paulc: I skipped the non-bio Persil at Sainburys because I'd had zero experience with it. On early trips to Europe, I had brought home "Via" from Sweden, Unilever's Persil equivalent in Sweden, with identical package marking and advertising. As I had only used the Bio color version, I was trying to bring home the corresponding UK Persil product, but unable to find it on the shelves at three different Sainsburys (sold out at all three). So I bought the competing Ariel product (color Bio) and the only remaining obstacle was the security inspector at Heathrow who wanted to know why I had four boxes of Ariel in my cabin bag (he let me keep them when I explained that US detergents for front loaders are inferior).

Note that Persil enjoys a royal warrant. So when the old Persil ads used to admonish that "someone's mum still doesn't know that Persil washes whiter, AND IT SHOWS", apparently they were not referring to HM The Queen. Neither HRH The Prince Charles nor HRH The Princess Anne ever appeared in a Persil ad wearing a white shirt or blouse several shades grayer than a classmate's, thanks to their mum insisting on Persil.

Post# 565065 , Reply# 7   12/24/2011 at 16:18 (2,395 days old) by Hunter (Colorado)        
Wools, cottons,silks

If bio detergents eat protein, don't they dissolve wool and silk (and matybe cotton) clothes?

Post# 565076 , Reply# 8   12/24/2011 at 17:01 (2,394 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Yes, They Can & Often Will

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That is why detergents containing enzymes have a warning against use on silk and wool. For the record chlorine bleach attacks protein (one of the reasons it is used in automatic dishwasher detergents) as well so it shouldn't be used on such textiles either.

Post# 565213 , Reply# 9   12/25/2011 at 17:56 (2,393 days old) by Hunter (Colorado)        

Good to know.


Post# 565251 , Reply# 10   12/26/2011 at 07:32 (2,393 days old) by AquaCycle (West Yorkshire, UK)        

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Bio detergent contains stain removing enzymes that break down stains and sweat etc much more effectively than non-bio and also mean that you can get effective results in lower temperatures (although I still firmly believe that washing below 40 is unhygienic, but thats another conversation). Bio also contains optical brighteners and a small amount of bleaching agents. I've found bio is great for washing bedding and heavily stained items.

Colour detergent is the same as bio, but without the bleaching agents. So you still have the stain removing enzymes but without colours fading over time due to the bleaching agents.

Non-bio detergent does not contain stain removing enzymes, but is packed full of bleaching agents and other chemicals to make up for the lack of enzymes. Non-bio does not work so well in lower temperatures, and is much better for washing whites on 60 plus temperatures.

Liquid detergents do not contain bleaching agents, so non-bio liquid/gel is pretty much just soap and is pretty pointless in my opinion as is bio liquid and gel.

There has been some speculation over the years that Non-Bio is better for people with sensitive skin, but this has since proved to be a load of old tosh (see link). It also doesn't make sense that non-bio would be better for sensitive skin, as it's packed full or artificial chemicals and bleaching agents. I've found that simply doing an extra rinse is sufficient for sensitive skin to ensure that all the detergent is removed.


Post# 565256 , Reply# 11   12/26/2011 at 09:03 (2,393 days old) by chestermikeuk (Rainhill *Home of the RailwayTrials* Merseyside,UK)        
"I'm looking forward to responses from the British c

chestermikeuk's profile picture
Lol - ""Apparently there exsists within the damp confines of the UK many persons with or whom believe they have skin conditions bothered by enzymes."" "ITA ALL IN THE CONTEXT....

DONT FORGET when this issue hit the news the context was that manufacturers where drastically reducing water levels in machines to obtain EU certification (think EnergyStar) and manufacturers drastically enhanced the concentration of detergent (saving on packaging & transportation) and hey guess what - the consumer as ever didnt read the packet and carried on using the same amount and YES there where many cases of skin irritations......those sort of stories carry on as folklaw untill challenged...

Personally I choose to think the Brit Moms & Grannies stuck to fingers up to the big companies who where changing stuff without consulting and hey guess what - IT WORKED, the product was re-introduced, now for all the bleaters out there please list how many other companies bowed to that sort of peer pressure -not many if any in this "We Know What" world!!!

Post# 565289 , Reply# 12   12/26/2011 at 15:12 (2,393 days old) by ronhic (Canberra, Australia)        
Speaking of bio and non-bio detergents....

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...Surf in Australia has always been a non-bio formulation.




Seems with the removal of the last of the phospates and replacement with zeolite, Lever's have decided that it's time to introduce 'enzyme' (singular) into Surf....


Well, bugger me if it didn't suddenly go from a lowish performing detergent to a high performing one that is now recommended. A shift in performance of approximately 15-20% from around 65% to 84% is very significant for a reformulation. Not only that, but it was one of the few detergents that had a 'high suspended solids' count which makes it very suitable (even though it is designed for) HE and front load machine.....many HE detergents clean well, but unless they have a high suspended solids count, then can be a pest to rinse out and leave clothes and towels hard and scratchy, forcing people to use softener......


I've always liked Surf from a fragrance point of it's about to become my daily driver!

Post# 565291 , Reply# 13   12/26/2011 at 15:26 (2,393 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
There Has Been A Shift In The Detergent Markets

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With major economies slowing if not in recession many households are dropping high priced TOL brands(Tide, Persil, etc) and switching to MOL or store brands. To their surprise most are finding such detergents work just as well if not the same as their former products.

Why shouldn't they. There are only a handful of major detergent makers on this planet and while in the past they may have kept top technology in chemicals to their star brands (P&G is or was famous for doing this with Tide), it doesn't cost them any more these days to add such things to MOL detergents as well.

There is also with the push to wash in warm or cold water the need for enzymes. Quite simply without them washing performance just isn't going to be the same without adding lots of bleaches or cranking up the alkaline content, and even then that may not work.

Post# 565292 , Reply# 14   12/26/2011 at 15:29 (2,393 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Bio Gel or Liquid Detergents Useless?

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Oh I don't know.

Tide liquid both "Free and Clear" and "Coldwater" give excellent results IMHO. So does Ariel "Excel Alpine Fraiche" gel, Persil "Petit et Pussisant", OMO liquid, and just arrived St.Croix Bulles.

As for neither containing bleac, there's no problem there. Have tons of liquid oxygen bleach (Clorox II), commercial activated oxygen bleach (Ecolab), and powdered sodium percarbonate (Ecover).

Post# 565295 , Reply# 15   12/26/2011 at 15:53 (2,393 days old) by ronhic (Canberra, Australia)        

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Thankfully, we've not been in recession......and our economy, whilst it has had a little 'heat' taken out of it, is still humming along rather well - especially so when you look at everyone elses!

Post# 565360 , Reply# 16   12/27/2011 at 03:32 (2,392 days old) by twinniefan (Sydney Australia)        
Surf top loader

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Hi Chris, does the top loader formula Surf has enzymes in it as well, I havent looked at it recently, but if it does I will certainly go get some, rather interested in the blue coloured box, I think it is lemon and lime scented.
Buy the way I am reasonably happy with the Ariel as posted elsewhere, but I don't think I will go out of my way to get it again, assuming I can find it of course.

Post# 565421 , Reply# 17   12/27/2011 at 14:35 (2,392 days old) by ronhic (Canberra, Australia)        

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Yes it does, but it isn't nearly as effective as the front load version. In fact brand for brand none of them were....I'm fairly certain that this is simply due to the concentration of detergent in the machine and not to do with the powder though.


I reckon if you're doing more than half water level loads and have particularly dirty clothes, such as very visible dirt from gardening etc, then you would need to increase the concentration by at least 50% for just about any of the top-load detergents to get the same effect as the front load versions....






Post# 565435 , Reply# 18   12/27/2011 at 17:51 (2,391 days old) by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
Depends on the person's allergy.

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I knew of someone who was allergic to the 1980's Persil "New System" powder.

An aunt is allergic to any Procter & Gamble detergent (Ariel, Bold, Daz, Fairy) yet is fine with Persil Biological powder.

An ex of mine could only use Persil Non-Bio. Anything else caused severe eczema.

Typically four or five enzymes in Ariel and Persil, (e.g.; amylase, protease, cellulase, glycosidase, lipase, mannanase).

Typically one or two enzymes in UK Surf and Daz, (protease, amylase).

Reformulations take place quite regularly, so enzymes are added, removed or swapped as the manufacturers see fit.

Part of the allergy thing is the extremely strong fragrance used in most of the detergents on the market today.

Post# 997191 , Reply# 19   6/14/2018 at 19:15 by IowaBear (Cedar Rapids, IA)        

This post has been removed by the member who posted it.

Post# 997230 , Reply# 20   6/15/2018 at 07:52 by ozzie908 (Lincoln UK)        
Non bio and bio powder

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I use both as I do a lot of White laundry and as non bio Persil has a higher bleach content it keeps white in lovely condition have noticed that Tea towels used for cooking and mopping up tend to look cleaner when washed in bio powder I wash darks if not whites so use a bio liquid as low temps cause clumping of powder which then leaves white marks. Its often to be found that Persil is on offer somewhere so I buy big boxes and store until needed I stopped using Ariel powder as it was eating cottons and leaving holes I blamed the machine for ages including swapping it for another but that didn't help and the only other constant was powder so after many a year using Ariel it was back to good old Persil.

Post# 997311 , Reply# 21   6/16/2018 at 07:00 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
"eating cottons and leaving holes..."

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It's probably a mixture of factors; e.g. powders are a tad more abrasive than liquids.

I've often wondered if the cellulase enzyme was the culprit, but it seems to be not commonly used anymore. Maybe it was too expensive, or perhaps certain detergent companies identified possible fabric damage over time.

I think some modern cottons fabrics are made using 'verging on substandard' thread quality.

That, and the fact modern washing machines pound the laundry in a puddle (increased friction), whereas older machines cushioned and lubricated the load in water more effectively. Current machines wash for a longer time too, and have less effective rinsing.

Furthermore, I dare say the general user probably overdoses on detergent, creating a too strong wash solution.

Post# 997602 , Reply# 22   6/18/2018 at 15:55 by mrboilwash (Munich,Germany)        

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It looks like when a certain limit of protease is exceeded in a detergent in the EU there has to be a safety warning printed on the product.

"Contains Protease. May cause an allergic reaction"
The example is from the latest incarnation of Persil Color Gel.
Very few "Bio" detergents seem to have protease levels that high to require an allergy alert. Even within the Persil range many other flankers are too watered down to require the alert.

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Post# 997749 , Reply# 23   6/19/2018 at 16:43 by iej (Ireland)        

I've been using Miele Ultraphase cartridges for a good while now an they contain cellulase and I've had absolutely no issues with cottons wearing out faster. I'm actually finding my clothes are lasting very well with that detergent, particularly finding jeans are really coming out very well.

It contains: Protease, Amylase, Lipase, Cellulase, Mannanase, Pektinase

Post# 997939 , Reply# 24   6/21/2018 at 12:56 by lakewebsterkid (Dayton, Ohio)        

The thing about Cellulase is that it will not do as much damage as washing and drying the garment does. If it caused excessive amounts of damage, the manufacturers would not be using it. Tide Coldwater uses it. I have been using this for a few months and have not noticed any issues either. I certainly would not want to have it in excess but some I am sure is beneficial.
In America we do not have 'color' detergents. Of course we have Cheer, but nothing formulated like Persil or Ariel for colors. Tide Colorguard has fluorescent brighteners in it. The European laundry market is far superior to that of the American one. As mentioned above about the Miele detergent, 6 enzymes is great, and it should leave your clothes clean too! P$G, I hope you are listening!

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