Cleaning agents generally separate soils from fabric or surface substrate by dissolving or suspending them in a water or solvent liquid solution to be carried away when the solution is removed.
The cleaning action of the primary formulation components is supplemented by additives to optimize the performance of the cleaners.
Biological additives are used to break down organic soils into smaller particles so that the soils are more readily separated and emulsified by surfactants for subsequent removal. Low levels of residual organic soils may often remain on surfaces due to incomplete solubilization or suspension of imbedded soils or incomplete rinsing of the surface. Biological additives impart a residual activity to the cleaned surface allowing for a slow removal of deeply embedded soils.
Biological additives function through the action of enzymes. Enzymes are organic catalysts found in nature. These catalysts hasten specific chemical reactions. Each enzyme selectively speeds the breakdown of a single type of chemical bond. Four classes of enzymes are commonly used in cleaning: (1) protease which breaks down protein, (2) amylase which breaks down starch; (3) lipase which degrades fats and oils, and (4) cellulase which breaks down cellulose. Enzymes are produced via fermentation and can be added to cleaning products formulations in the form of a stabilized extracellular enzyme concentrate or a wild type beneficial microorganism that can produce the enzyme needed as required at the site of use. Beneficial microorganisms are able to detect the organic soils present and provided they have the genetic capability, produce the specific enzymes needed to degrade those organics.
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