The washing process in institutions and industries is often characterized by high pH and temperature in the washing liquor and short residence times of the items to be cleaned. Typical ingredients in the I&I detergents are anionic and non-ionic surfactants and a large amount of alkali (silicate or even sodium or potassium hydroxide), and in some cases other builders such as STP or soda ash. Detergents for I&I cleaning may be powders, liquids or pastes. Liquid I&I detergents may contain large volumes of solvent such as propylene glycol. The challenge with these types of formulations is the negative environmental impact and hence the need to improve formulation to a more environmentally friendly formulations.
The environmentally friendly formulations must also deliver absolutely clean and hygienic laundry while using energy, chemical, and water resources efficiently. Enzyme usage in I&I detergent formulations can help achieving these goals by increasing stain removal, fabric care and by boosting the overall performance at lower washing temperatures and at reduced wash alkalinity.
Key challenges include delivering optimal soil and stain removal, maintaining textile whiteness, minimizing color fading, dye transfer, textile ash build-up and textile wear, and providing hygienic and fresh smelling results. In addition to these factors industrial laundries are facing increasing challenges coming from the nature of the textiles to be washed: a larger variety and mix of fabric types, mix of colors, plastic logos and reflectant and waterproof materials. Enzymes help facing these difficulties by allowing performance at milder wash conditions.
Proper selection of enzymes (e.g. protease, amylase, mannanase, lipase, cellulase) for I&I laundry formulations can significantly boost the cleaning of many tough stains and soil problems encountered.