Thread Number: 69661  /  Tag: Detergents and Additives
Laundry detergent enzymes & skin irritation
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Post# 925804   3/9/2017 at 03:34 by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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Can the enzymes used in modern laundry detergents cause skin trouble? I haven't noticed any difference between enzyme and non-enzyme detergents on own skin, but I've wondered.


I realize, of course, that enzymes (as I understand) don't survive high temperatures. So presumably with a hot dryer it would be "goodbye." But...there is line drying (particularly indoors), and the possibility of dryers that don't get particularly hot (flaw/bad design/a low temperature cycle).

Post# 925808 , Reply# 1   3/9/2017 at 05:03 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

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No, they cannot.

What can cause skin irritation are the various other chemicals including scent used in laundry detergents. This and or irritation caused by "harsh deposits" left by certain powdered detergents.

If you are worried about your nice lingerie irritating your skin, best seek out some Ivory Snow. *LOL*

Post# 925929 , Reply# 2   3/10/2017 at 02:27 by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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Thanks, Launderess!


I like the part at the end of the video when Betsy is talking about how knowledgeable Mrs. Palmer is LOL.


Post# 925935 , Reply# 3   3/10/2017 at 03:12 by Frigilux (The Minnesota Prairie)        

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Ivory Snow was used in our household for blankets and delicates. I always loved the "99-44/100% Pure" designation. What unspeakable toxicity lurked in that last 56/100%? LOL.

Post# 925938 , Reply# 4   3/10/2017 at 03:57 by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        
99-44/100% Pure

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And don't forget that the bar soap was advertised to float!


Cartoon on this topic. Click on cartoon to enlarge:

Post# 925952 , Reply# 5   3/10/2017 at 06:06 by chestermikeuk (Rainhill *Home of the RailwayTrials* Merseyside,UK)        
Skin Irritation...

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Dont blame the detergents - Blame lack of Poor Rinsing. Detergents as first made 90yrs ago where much harsher, perhaps not as perfumed and it MAY be that synthetic perfumes today could be an issue with certain peoples sensitivities, but surely if its rinsed as good as its washed then all residues should be swished away...

Personally I think what doesn't help is the EXTRA stuff that's around the detergent such as slimey gelatine that's around liquipods (that can form a slime again in cool water and soaking) and the heavy dosing of fabric conditioner, I discussed with the techies at P & G that fab con ( in our wonderful world of FL wendy weshers) should be available in the 3rd rinse (or programmable in one before the last) and then you have the option of a final clean water rinse having had the benefit of conditioner - which is more of a problem with eczema than detergents !!

Post# 925966 , Reply# 6   3/10/2017 at 07:08 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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That's what initially sold me on Asko 20 years ago...four rinses.  The new models rinse up to seven times.  My Miele does three but with long spins between instead of burst spins like the Asko. 

Post# 926008 , Reply# 7   3/10/2017 at 10:50 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        

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There is one enzyme which works as clothes dry: lipase. This enzyme helps to break down greasy, oily stains. Whether there's enough left in the garments after three rinses is a moot point, though. And a hot tumble dryer is likely to deactivate it anyway.

I too would be more concerned about the extra ingredients. For example, liquids might contain methylisothiazolinone, which is a preservative. This can and does cause allergies - it was featured on one of our consumer programmes, and is used in cosmetics, shampoos, etc. Ironically, the EU allowed the manufacturers to remove one of the preservatives - methylchloroisothiazolinone - because they thought consumers might be allergic to it. I suspect that endeavouring to cheapen manufacturing costs, played a major part too.

Post# 926058 , Reply# 8   3/10/2017 at 17:37 by Liberatordeluxe (Chelmsford, United Kingdom)        

I am allergic to Sodium laureth sulfate and most mainstream toiletries so avoid them. However unless you come into contact with the neat detergent or the perfumes are too over bearing then proper thorough rinsing should remove the majority of detergent. I do think the likes of Procter and Gamble detergents are not the easiest to rinse though.

Post# 926091 , Reply# 9   3/10/2017 at 19:17 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Procter and Gamble detergents are not the easiest to rinse

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No, they aren't even on this side of the Pond. Which is why one tends to avoid.

Liquids are slightly better than the powders, but there you are then.

Whenever have used powdered Tide, Cheer or other P&G detergents it dulls the surface of the stainless steel laundry sink. It took only one wash with Cheer powder to dull the NIB finish of my Hoover TT; so that was that.

Post# 926099 , Reply# 10   3/10/2017 at 19:57 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        

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That's interesting - I found the opposite.

I haven't used P&G detergents to handwash for some years, but when I did, Ariel always caused the stainless steel sink to positively gleam.

Post# 926131 , Reply# 11   3/10/2017 at 22:52 by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

In the late 60s, when enzymes were new and, I believe, were primarily for protein stains, but not for oils or grease, there was a product called TIDE XK which was Tide with the enzyme. Dermatologists started having patients come in with rashes around their waist bands and it turned out that the cause was insufficient rinsing that did not remove the product from the elastic so basically the enzyme was working on the skin, augmented, of course by everything else in the detergent left behind.


This was also the time of enzyme presoak products which were shown to have huge amounts of phosphates just at the time when phosphates were being removed from detergents.

Post# 926187 , Reply# 12   3/11/2017 at 06:45 by Paulc (Edinburgh, Scotland)        

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Remember, the majority of US powders don't have oxygen bleach in like Ariel does.

Post# 926190 , Reply# 13   3/11/2017 at 07:33 by aegokocarat (Cearphily county South Wales)        

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I'm going to be honest, I use non bio detergent because I find that my skin doesn't seem as irritated by it as it does by most bio's, though there are some I can use I just stick to non bio out of habit. I found its down to the perfumes used but also as others have said, how well your machine rinses. My 1600 spin Zanussi machine rinses fairly well with fast spins in between the rinses, I can't ever smell detergent left on the laundry afterwards, I do use fabric softener on certain things but usually its a gentle/plant based softener and even then I use a reduced amount and thats only for specific garments. I use Fairy, Ecover, supermarket or persil non bio (Fairy, Ecover and Persil being my favourites) and I use roughly 50-100ml depending on the load and the soiling and it always rinses out fine for me, though, we do have soft water here. Anyway, thats just my pennies worth.

Post# 926192 , Reply# 14   3/11/2017 at 07:45 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        

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That's true, but I find that the sink gleams even with liquid detergents.

Maybe it's down to the quality of the steel finish?

Post# 926193 , Reply# 15   3/11/2017 at 07:51 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
Well, what do people expect?

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Modern machines in the US use too cold of water to clean clothes.

They deposit all sorts of molds and bacteria on the clothes.

The detergents don't clean in cold water, they contain far too much perfume to cover the stench.

Finally, rinsing is a joke in the modern machines.


All these problems would go away if people were to:

Use hot water to wash clothes clean.

Use enough phosphates, enzymes and good detergents to clean.

Wash in clean machines.

Rinse thoroughly.

Stay away from those horrid fabric softeners and extremely scented detergents.


Problem solved.

Post# 926202 , Reply# 16   3/11/2017 at 09:12 by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

Keven, you are absolutely right. It is a testament to the wonders of the human body's immune system that the skin's constant exposure to the toxic brew in the fabrics does not result in more health problems. On the other hand, maybe people's bathing habits and the products used for bodily cleansing have set up an almost semi-permeable barrier on the skin through which the shumtz and unrinsed chemicals cannot pass.

Post# 926204 , Reply# 17   3/11/2017 at 09:15 by iej (Ireland)        

A lot of this actually stems from a Unilever marketing move in the UK.

When the first enzyme detergents launched in the UK there was an big emphasis put on the new stain busting power of "biological" detergent. It was the new buzzword.

Ariel was the first big push and then Unilever pushed "New System Persil Automatic" which was an enzyme based formulation of the old venerable brand.

A few people in the tabloids reported getting a rash and Unilever basically relaunched their old Persil as "non bio" and ever since the British have had this idea that biological detergent is some kind of horrific Frankenstein product that will irritate your skin of you even look at it across a room.

You could react to enzymes but you would be more likely to react to strong surfactants, perfumes and optical agents etc etc found in these products.

The key is rinsing and detergents typically leave behind their fragrances and conditioning agents that are designed to climg to fabric. The majority of other ingredients will rinse away very easily.

If you've sensitive skin, any detergent could potentially set it off. So really the key is rinsing.

The problem in this market is that "non bio" has become shorthand for "sensitive" detergents and is not necessarily a very good description.

I'd prefer to see hypoallergenic detergents being marketed than non bio

Post# 926221 , Reply# 18   3/11/2017 at 11:47 by chestermikeuk (Rainhill *Home of the RailwayTrials* Merseyside,UK)        

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Interesting comments, for me Ariel always rinses clear no probs at all, latest formulation even more, perhaps manufacturers are getting the message that
"ya dont need suds to clean"

Ariel UK is a different formulation to P & G equivalent Tide, when Ive used it in twintubs wringers etc it always leaves the washtub coated in a fine powder something I`ve never encountered with Ariel ...I was told it would never be sold here as it wouldnt pass muster due to the high metalergic content which is prob what dulls the tubs n sinks !!

And here we go again about Persil Non bio and The Housewives of GB, you are right Ariel launched with enzymes then Persil followed suit (they did have a problem with a manganese accelerator) but also it co-incieded with manufacturers making the powder concentrated and they didnt do a good enough education & selling job...and also at the same time Washing Machine manufacturers with new eco rules to abide by drastically reduced wash water levels, again without educating the poor new concentrated powder, new low water levels = customer disaster !!

Nowthen The Great Housewives of the UK rose up about their beloved Persil of old being phased out, you know the one with all that soapy goodness and our own bleachy bleaching whitening system which had housewives had come to use and love for decades - and one thing you dont do is "Mess with women who Wesh" ...

Post# 926267 , Reply# 19   3/11/2017 at 17:51 by Gyrafoam (Roanoke, VA)        

Mike is right, as every time I use (powdered) Tide there is a fine powder residue left behind on the tub.

I definitely believe the lack of proper rinsing by newer machines is an issue. Imagine how people who regularly use LCB are dealing with these lame spray rinses instead of a deep rinse! Just not enough dilution.

BTW, does anyone know what the difference was between Regular All and Fluffy All, back in the day?
Fluffy All came in a red and white box as opposed to the blue box normally associated with All detergent.

This post was last edited 03/11/2017 at 19:56
Post# 926277 , Reply# 20   3/11/2017 at 19:27 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

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"majority of US powders don't have oxygen bleach in like Ariel does. "

P&G has had a lock on patented activated oxygen bleaching systems going back to Oxydol & Biz. That technology was transferred to Tide with Bleach and remained in only TOL offerings from P&G until rather recently. Gain and a few other P&G powdered detergents finally got some or part of same. Later P&G came out with various Tide "boosters" such as pods, and in wash stain release powders.

Because P&G has the lock on NBOS activator patent, few if any other laundry detergents bothered trying to come up with their own.

That being said Ecover, Bi-o-kleen, Sears, Amway and other powdered detergents sold in USA do have oxygen bleach (usually sodium percarbonate, but some still use sodium perborate IIRC.

Of course Tide is being challenged now by Henkel's Persil "megaperls" sold in the North American market, and it contains a pretty advanced oxygen bleaching system.

Reason for American detergents not including oxygen bleach is simple; housewives here and anyone else doing laundry (commercial and professional included) nearly universally chose chlorine for bleaching over oxygen based systems. There is no sense putting oxygen bleach in a detergent if you know consumers are going to use chlorine; the two will simply cancel each other out.

The other reason is time and heat. Hydrogen peroxide based bleaches work best with moderate to high water temperatures (100F to > 140F) and long contact time. This varies by which type is used (liquid hydrogen peroxide, sodium perborate or sodium percarbonate), but still.

Sodium percarbonate will bleach in cooler water temps, but really needs increased contact time to be truly effective. H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide liquid), and sodium perborate will also bleach in cooler water, but require a much longer contact time. This is why the original activated oxygen bleach "detergent" (Biz) was marketed as a pre-soak. The long contact time gave enzymes and bleaching action better results.

When P&G began using NBOS activated oxygen bleach and perfected that system Tide With Bleach and what followed were able to deliver good to excellent results in the short wash times found with American top loaders, dilute (high) water levels (compared to front loaders), and often cooler water temps (tap hot being 120F to 140F, but not sustained by an onboard heating system).

Post# 926324 , Reply# 21   3/12/2017 at 01:22 by iheartmaytag (Wichita, Kansas)        
Thank you Laundress

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Your knowledge amazes me.

Post# 926329 , Reply# 22   3/12/2017 at 01:49 by earthling177 (Boston, MA)        

Steve (Gyrafoam) asked:
"BTW, does anyone know what the difference was between Regular All and Fluffy All, back in the day?
Fluffy All came in a red and white box as opposed to the blue box normally associated with All detergent."

Steve, apparently Condensed All was the first formula introduced, and then, who knows why, some people couldn't deal with the fact it was concentrated and/or Monsanto decided to see what happened if they introduced the same detergent but in the standard concentration the other detergents were sold. At least at some point, like in the advertising linked, they called it "Extra Fluffy".

Another story I've heard over 25 years ago, told by people in advertising, is that All did not sell very well at first, because they were selling it in small containers to emphasize the concentration and impart how much less room it took etc. Apparently most people only saw a smaller box for a similar price other detergents went for and didn't buy it. So, when they introduced the bigger containers, some people who did not read instructions used the same amount they were used to, and then All started selling really well because it was cleaning better and rinsing better than the competition. Then again, please take the story with a grain of salt, it was told to us by people in advertising to highlight how important Public Relations and Advertising were. ;-)

   -- Paulo.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO earthling177's LINK

Post# 926357 , Reply# 23   3/12/2017 at 07:24 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
All things considered

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If extraction is done between cycles you don't need that many rinses.

When wash isn't extracted, wrung, or whatever after the main wash soils and chemicals carry over into the first rinse. This will continue to happen as subsequent rinses "dilute" that residue.

However if the laundry is extracted after wash and before each rinse said residues are squeezed and or otherwise removed from wash. Thus there is less to carry over for subsequent rinsing.

My Oko-Lavamat has two rinse programmes for "Normal Cottons/Linens"; regular and sensitive.

The normal rinse is four rinses with an option to add an extra rinse, but with spins after the wash and after each rinse. These spins are somewhat violent as the ones between third, fourth and perhaps fifth rev up to very high rpms.

If sensitive is chosen the washer will rinse two or three times (forget which) then spin. A spin follows each subsequent rinse including those violent speeds for the last few. My guess is this programme mimics rinsing of old in that lots of water is used to dilute as much residue out of the wash, then strong spins send it down the drain.

In the days of wringers if hot or boiling water was used (and if often was), washing could not be sent through the mangle at once; the heat would harm the rubber rollers. So wash was moved through the first and perhaps second rinses of hot water (if using soap for washing), before cool then cold rinse; then things were mangled.

Early commercial washing machines which were just that; washers as they didn't extract; did several changes of water usually at hot or very, then more still in cold, then laundry was finally extracted. If wash was extracted while still being hot it would lead to deeply set in creases that would take ages to iron out, if at all.

Here is wash program from an old hospital laundry, think it was for linens:

(1) Five-minute cold rinse;
(2) 10-minute soak in hot suds;
(3) 10-minute soak in hot suds;
(4) 10-minute soak in hot suds, with bleach;
(5) five hot rinses with live steam;
(6) six cold rinses, and a germicide solution is used in the third cold rinse; (7) water is extracted

Washer was just that, with things moved to an extractor for spin drying. As you can see it is a very water intensive program.

This post was last edited 03/12/2017 at 07:39
Post# 926375 , Reply# 24   3/12/2017 at 11:49 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
Extraction between cycles

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I agree with that. A decent machine should have good spin efficiency, not only on the final spin, but between the rinses too.

Typically, UK Hoover machines used to have a constant slow spin between rinses. In 1993, that changed for a spell, with the introduction of the Hoover New Wave machines. They featured the all new Dynamic Spin Rinse, which had four staged-spins between each rinse interspersed with tumbling, each progressively faster than the last - say for example: 500rpm, 800rpm, 1000rpm, 1300rpm. If balance couldn't be achieved, the fastest spins might not be reached. As the drum decelerated, water was introduced from the front into the drum, allowing an effect similar to the Hoovermatic twin tub spin-a-rinse.(We had better programmes on the washing machine than we did on television!).

As I type this, my new Panasonic is busy rinsing. On the Cottons 40 degC programme, there is a gentle spin after the main wash. The first rinse then takes in water, and the machine progresses to distribution speed (similar to the detergent-mixing phase on the wash cycle). I presume this is to dilute and clear suds. The jet recirculation spray is periodically switched on for short intervals with normal tumbling. The spin between the rinses is stepped, but at lower speeds. No tumbling occurs between steps. Rinses two and three, are normal tumbles with recirculation jets.

Comparing this machine to the previous machine: the new Panasonic washes and rinses more effectively - because of the horizontal drum and the recirculation pump.

The old Panasonic had a tilted drum which meant wash water gathered towards the back of the tub - fine for smaller loads, but it meant large loads took some time for water to penetrate. Factor in also that the drum lifters/shower-paddles were only two-thirds of the depth of the drum, meant water only sprinkled onto the rearmost third of the drum depth. There was a fresh water spray jet at the front of the tub, but it wasn't terribly effective at doing much, other than dampening the load. I will give it its due though: the old Panasonic was efficient at getting the load balanced for spinning - probably due to the tilt causing laundry to fall to the back wall of the drum.

An earlier Zanussi had a tilted drum and recirculation jet, and was quite effective at soaking the wash load and rinsing. Spin balancing was also good (thanks to its tilted drum).

Post# 926443 , Reply# 25   3/12/2017 at 20:35 by Gyrafoam (Roanoke, VA)        
Leave it to Laundress----

who found this old advertisement that pretty much explained the differences between All detergents.

My mother used Fluffy All well into the 1960's however, I don't know when they stopped making it and then she switched to regular All. It had a great fragrance and didnt oversuds the '56 Unimatic.

Thanks Laundress!!!! I knew she would know.

The All detergent I came to love was the Dishwashing Powder. With Florida's hard water it sure did a great job. And then they took it off of the market! Go Figya.

Post# 927207 , Reply# 26   3/16/2017 at 15:05 by Liberatordeluxe (Chelmsford, United Kingdom)        

@Chestermike Is the Aries you say that rinses well the powder or liquid version? I am using up a big box of Dan and have to say the cleaning is poor and it foams too much so won't buy again.

Post# 927915 , Reply# 27   3/20/2017 at 10:51 by AquaCycle (West Yorkshire, UK)        

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Mike, correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember that the biological/enzyme hysteria also stems from staff at the Lever Bros factory reacting badly to exposure to high levels of different enzymes - respiratory problems, skin complaints etc. The press got hold of it and made a big song and dance over it, but as we know exposure to certain products in a factory is very different to what actually ends up in detergents in the home.

Paul C remembers this as his Dad was working there at the time IIRC.

Post# 927922 , Reply# 28   3/20/2017 at 11:36 by chestermikeuk (Rainhill *Home of the RailwayTrials* Merseyside,UK)        

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Chris that happened and was also press reported, but was not the cause / catalyst for the Housewives of the UK reacting to their loss of beloved Persil non bio of well aware that Pauls dad worked there, its well documented here !!!

Post# 927925 , Reply# 29   3/20/2017 at 11:39 by chestermikeuk (Rainhill *Home of the RailwayTrials* Merseyside,UK)        

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Hello Ben, the Ariel powder currently sold has less foaming than of old, I can also say the same of Persil...havnt used Daz for years, a big change from when it was the premium "Hot Wash" powder for bluey whitest whites ha ha...

Post# 927955 , Reply# 30   3/20/2017 at 18:35 by optima (Cumbria England)        

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Daz was & still is the best Washing Powder by far.

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Post# 927968 , Reply# 31   3/20/2017 at 19:22 by jamiel (Detroit, Michigan)        

The major difference between condensed All and fluffy All was that fluffy All was spray-dried (like P&G's products) this point it was still a Monsanto product (i.e. not a lot of retail experience there unlike P&G/Lever/Colgate).

Post# 928031 , Reply# 32   3/21/2017 at 05:41 by AquaCycle (West Yorkshire, UK)        

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Well Mike, I guess ultimately people just don't like change!

As for Daz being the best powder, I beg to differ - I was never overly impressed with it's cleaning abilities. Sure, it's packed full of bleaching agents but only 1 enzyme and a lower concentration of surfactants than TOL Ariel & Persil (hence the cheaper price). Fine for whites, not so great at actually shifting dirt.

Post# 928388 , Reply# 33   3/22/2017 at 23:37 by Michael (London /England)        
My pennys worth...

I have used bio persil for years, and recently bought a pack of non bio..the original Persil automatic...I was taken back to 1976, when we got our first automatic, a Hoover keymatic deluxe and the wonder of how white our wash was and bright our colours were! really does whiten better than the bio, but these days I use persil small and mighty colour or surf black for anything other than whites!And if there are tough stains ie tea towels..a scoop of vanish platinum and a soak in my Miele sorts that out... Persil non bio rules in our house and smells fresh and clean!

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