Thread Number: 74782  /  Tag: Detergents and Additives
Do enzymes make sense for traditional top load washers?
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Post# 986013   3/10/2018 at 01:45 (197 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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I've been wondering the last few days if enzymes in laundry detergent are of much value with traditional top load washers. My impression, based on what I've heard, is that enzymes need time to work. Which raises the question if they have enough time to really do anything during a typical top load washer cycle.


Am I right about this? And if time is a problem with top load washers, could enzymes be helped a bit by, say, running the cycle for a few minutes, and then pausing for 20 minutes to soak, and then completing the cycle?

Post# 986018 , Reply# 1   3/10/2018 at 03:22 (197 days old) by arbilab (Ft Worth TX (Ridglea))        

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Best I know, you're right both times.  That's how I work my twintub.  Agi-soak-repeat.  If I agi'd the whole 30-40min I'd have little left but lint, thx to that cussed peller.  Pellers do one thing well: make margaritas.

Post# 986024 , Reply# 2   3/10/2018 at 05:37 (197 days old) by DADoES (TX, U.S. of A.)        

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Toploaders with a Soak cycle surely benefit from enzymes more than a short/aggressive wash time.  Sears made a big deal of their soak cycle back in the day ... even named it "Enzyme Soak."

Post# 986035 , Reply# 3   3/10/2018 at 07:55 (197 days old) by Yogitunes (New Jersey)        

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many times a 10 minute wash is just not enough....and not that it has to be total agitation the whole time....its more of contact with the diluted solution that can be effective...

pretreat when you can...probably the best high concentration of product to work on a stain.....

a few machines lather up the detergent/water mixture, and then saturate the load, again high concentration, and very effective for a lot of stains....

enzymes or not, many heavily soiled loads will benefit from a 20+ minute soak period....occasional agitation can be beneficial...

many 'Oxi' products I have read, state for most effective stain removal, is a minimum of a 6 hour soak....

Post# 986036 , Reply# 4   3/10/2018 at 07:57 (197 days old) by iej (Ireland)        

The newer enzymes are also pretty fast acting. They are useful in front loaders on cycles that last quite short times too. In a top loader - agitate ... soak ... agitate ... spin and rinse should do a pretty effective job and create less lint and wear on fabrics than just relying on simple detergent and agitation alone.

Post# 986037 , Reply# 5   3/10/2018 at 08:01 (197 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Early enzyme laundry products were mostly pre-soakers

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Since long contact time improves results, giving the "germs" more time to digest whatever substance they were meant to be attacking.

By the time P&G, Henkel, Lever Bros, etc.. began moving enzymes into detergents something must have changed.

Average wash cycle time for a North American top loader (with central beater)is 10-15 minutes. European washing machines have an average wash cycle range of 30 to 40 minutes. Industrial washers including tunnel systems range from 4 to 8 minutes.

Since there are laundry detergents on offer with enzymes we must assume that makers have optimized products for their target market. But this would likely be for a specific range of soiling. Heavily stained laundry likely will require longer contact time to give better results.

If you read packets and or laundry manuals, websites, and or other media aimed at the North American market (with the presumption user has a top loader with central beater), you find it is advised to soak moderately to heavy soiled laundry with an enzyme product for several hours/over night.

OTOH European domestic washing machines with their long wash cycle times rarely see this sort of advice. Indeed over the years were pre-wash was once de facto included with "Cottons/Linens/Normal", it now is an option. Modern enzyme detergents like Persil or Ariel are just that good, especially coupled with a long profile wash that goes from cold to 40c or 60c. Some washers (like my AEG/Lavamat) have an option that will extend wash cycle by holding the "warm" heating part in order to give enzymes more time to work before going on to hot or boil wash temps.

By and large commercial laundries go with chemicals to remove soils/stains as it is faster and more efficient than relying upon enzymes. High wash temps coupled with high pH will remove blood, especially if load has been flushed/sluiced in cold water first, then pre-washed in warm water with perhaps a bit of suds and alkali.

Thing to also remember about North American laundry habits is the still heavy reliance/use of chlorine bleach. Even with enzyme detergents people still add bleach to wash loads. This not only kills off the enzymes but chlorine bleach will break down protein. This means even in a "short" top loading or even Laundromat front loader wash cycle results can be skewed.

In the old says packets of enzyme detergents sold in USA had directions to wait several minutes after wash started before adding chlorine bleach. Presumably that was to give enzymes time to work.

Bringing this on home; no, don't find much benefit in using enzyme detergents in short wash cycles. I don't bother with them in wringer washer unless am going to allow load to soak. Stains/soils that come out easily in my Miele or AEG using enzyme detergents largely remain (or show traces) when done at laundromat using the SQ front loaders.

If you "washed" laundry in a top loader for forty minutes of being thrashed about, you'd soon have rags. OTOH drum type washers give a more gentle wash action so even one hour of being "washed" won't cause as much wear.

Post# 986042 , Reply# 6   3/10/2018 at 08:34 (197 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
When I need enzymes to work in the top-loader

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I run this cycle:

Cold rinse - gets a lot of the stuff out which heat might set.

Warm soak (by which, I mean 45ºC) for at least 20 minutes with occasional agitation.  This gives the enzymes time to break things apart.

Hot wash with 60ºC water and either TSP (gasp! The horror of it all!) or STTP for at least 20 minutes on delicate.

Two clear rinses.

Spin at 1800 rpm.

This seems to work best in the US. Of course, we all know I'm the only person on the entire planet for whom STTP doesn't turn into TSP in water and our water doesn't form participates with TSP, and, of course, I'm also the only person in the entire solar system to benefit from using something which turns sebum and other oils/fats into soap - so: YMMV. I use the 'dry' chlorine bleach tablets when I must. As Laundress has pointed out a few million times  -  there's no faster way to deactivate the enzymes, though, so never in the soak cycle.



Post# 986545 , Reply# 7   3/14/2018 at 13:28 (193 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Glancing over directions on a vintage box of Axion

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Which was one of the original enzyme pre-soak products, and it recommends at least 30 minutes for "normal" soil.

This seems to match what one has heard over years that enzyme products need about twenty minute wash cycles to work well. This would be a snip for front loaders, and many top loaders of old (and still may for all one knows), had wash cycles of 15 minutes or so.

However depending upon how powerful the wash action in a top loader was, subjecting washing to long cycles could increase potential for wear and tear on fabrics. Thus it would seem if going with a top loader and anything more than routine stains/soils wanted shifting by enzyme product, soaking might be a better way to go.

Post# 986549 , Reply# 8   3/14/2018 at 14:13 (193 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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The WP DD I'm using (which is about 10-11 years old) goes up to 18 minutes. But I shudder to think of running a Shredmore routinely for 18 minutes! Unless I had clothes made of cast iron. LOL



Post# 986551 , Reply# 9   3/14/2018 at 14:21 (193 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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What's unfortunate is that it seems to me that enzymes have been pushed as a way of being able to drop water temperatures used in laundry. But the washers that use the most water are the standard top load machines, which typically don't have ideal cycles...


Not that I'm aiming for cold water laundry, of course. I value results above saving hot water. But I also see value in using less hot water if the results are acceptable.



Post# 986553 , Reply# 10   3/14/2018 at 14:33 (193 days old) by thomasortega (Los Angeles - CA)        

It reminds me when Brastemp launched their first washers in Brazil (Lady Kenmores here in the US)

They had a 14-minute wash, then straight to drain.

The result was always mediocre.

Then people started to let the washer agitate for a few minutes, then top the washer, let it soak for about 1 hour, then let it finish the cycle. The results were much better.

Then in 1980's, Brastemo included a soak on the timer. Basically the same washer, but now with 2 minute agitation, 28 minute soak and then the 14 minute wash. The cleaning performance changed dramatically.

Nowadays, most top load washers in Brazil have super long cycles if compared to american ones. Some models take 2 hours before the first rinse and on heavy duty they can reach up to 3 hours. It's a mix of short agitations (1 or 2 minutes and 5 minute soak and this routine repeats several times)>

The mechanical action is also much gentler on clothes, making them last longer. It also saves A LOT of energy and the cleaning performance for tough stains is much better than american washers.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO thomasortega's LINK

Post# 986556 , Reply# 11   3/14/2018 at 15:11 (193 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

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Over years Whirlpool had variations of "Super Wash" that offered long cycles, but cut down on all that trashing about.

The older method which was on my WP portable/compact:

Fill to selected level

Wash for six minutes on "normal" agitation.

Soak for two minutes

Partial drain - no agitation

Soak - no agitation

Refill and proceed to wash or "Normal/Heavy".

If one wished to use another cycle and or cut wash time one stopped and reset timer.

Know many here say differently, but every single owner's manual and or advice abou using wringer washers stated to limit wash times to about six to ten minutes. With all but the most sturdy fabrics laundered at lower end of that range; about six to seven minutes.

For badly soiled/stained wash it was advised to pre-soak, or wash for several minutes then launder as normal.

Looking at some of the agitators used in vintage wringer washers again one assumes you'd have rags letting them go at your wash for ten, fifteen or more minutes. That Apex spiral dasher comes to mind.

Post# 986591 , Reply# 12   3/14/2018 at 17:55 (193 days old) by cycla-fabric (New Jersey)        

Interesting question on this subject, my vintage Kenmore 800 has a Enzymes Soak on the timer which is a 30 min alternate soak and slow agitation. I used it once on a real dirty load of laundry, but I don't recall if the detergent had enzymes or not, but I do know the wash was clean when it was done. I prefer to just to use a stain pretreater and that usually works best.


Post# 986642 , Reply# 13   3/14/2018 at 22:59 (193 days old) by DADoES (TX, U.S. of A.)        

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My F&P IWL12 has several features related to soaking, which garners benefits from enzyme products.

The "Stained" soil level adds several brief soak periods during the wash.

The separate "Soak" option adds a 2-hr soak (with five agitation strokes every minute) after most of the wash period has progressed, then a few more minutes of agitation after the soak.

Adding the Time Saver option with Soak cuts it to 1 hr (all of the cycle sequences in half).

Pressing Advance while the Soak is in progress ends the soak, although I haven't tried that so I don't know if it immediately drains or continues with the post-soak agitation period.

Can also combine Soak with Stained.  I did that once but now I don't recall what was the resultant sequence.

Post# 986689 , Reply# 14   3/15/2018 at 08:23 (192 days old) by MrAlex (London, UK)        

Most European detergents says on the box that they work on quick wash, so maybe they get to work faster now compared to 10-20 years ago?

Post# 986746 , Reply# 15   3/15/2018 at 15:17 (192 days old) by johnb300m (Chicago)        

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My Maxima FL on Normal, seems to have pretty short wash segments on Light or Medium.
There is a "sensing" hold on the cycles, so I've noticed it add 1-5ish mintues to the wash cycle. So that helps.
Light being a brief 6 minutes. Up to 11ish on the high side.
Medium being 8 minutes, up to 15 or so, I've observed.

So there's a slim opportunity for some enzyme action at least on Med soil.

Heavy is where it shines at 40min minimum.
It'll do regular agitation of scrubbing, quick tumbling, and active soaking.
With a good enzyme detergent, it washes VERY well.
I rarely, if ever us the 2hr PowerWash cycle. Mostly only for house or car rags.
And paintball gear once.

Post# 986754 , Reply# 16   3/15/2018 at 16:05 (192 days old) by gorenje (Slovenia)        
Time and also proper temperature ...

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As has been said time is an important factor for enzymes to perform but also a proper temperature. The enzymes are more active in an ideal environment. (temperature between 30 and 40°C)

That's why as Launderess said, some front loaders turns off the heating for a period of time, when the water is lukewarm to give enzymes some more time to act, before going on to high temperature. This is another advantage of the profile wash.

A very high temperature from the start would not be as effective when washing with an enzymatic detergent.

But all this depends on the type of enzymes are used. Because as we know some special enzymes works good even in cold water, and not only in cold water but also in short time if we have in mind Japanese detergents. Their washing machines mainly use cold water and have similar wash times as the American (approx.15 min.) Although it must be said that lately also the Japanese are turning more and more towards front-loading washing machines even with internal heater, but this is already another topic.

Post# 986762 , Reply# 17   3/15/2018 at 17:43 (192 days old) by brisnat81 (Brisbane Australia)        

In Australia, particularly because we were indoctrinated into cold and warm water washing after the oil crisis in the 70's, you just soaked everything.

Bleach was for sanitising, not whitening, so you used to soak in buckets any whites using enzymes. I remember when mum would buy SA8 and the enzyme soak in the mid 80's that was when it really first took off.

The process for successful cold/warm water washing always seemed to be as follows at least in my family.

1) Whites go into a nappy bucket with enzyme soaker as you take them off and they accumulate till wash day.
2) Colours with marks get sprayed with pre-treater on the day of wash.

My memories of growing up are that something was always being soaked or scrubbed or sprayed to get it clean, there were always piles of washing being treated and prepped to be washed. The only time Mum would use hot was for dads overalls and work clothes to get rid of the grease and oil.

Even using hot water when I left home, I'd still soak things in a TL, business shirts I'd soak overnight in warm, and wash in hot. That way I didnt need to scrub the collars, but they had to soak overnight.

Going to a frontloader with longer wash times and no need to pretreat or soak was an awesome experience.

Post# 986770 , Reply# 18   3/15/2018 at 18:12 (192 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Quick Wash

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Such cycles have always struck one more as marketing hype than anything else.

If you read owner's manuals such cycles are rarely for full loads of moderately to badly soiled wash.

My Lavamat's quick wash is for about half load of "lightly soiled" items, such as things only worn for a brief period and or require refreshing..

Post# 986781 , Reply# 19   3/15/2018 at 20:48 (192 days old) by dylanmitchell (San Diego, CA)        

I used Biz with 125-degree water and it works well. Supposed to be enzyme-based and break down proteins plus it's oxygenated. 125 degrees is what I set the water heater at so it's above dishwasher minimum inlet temp and reduced the spread of Legionnaires bacteria but it's not hot enough to kill it off.

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