I recently received an email from a customer asking why I recommended using a non-biological washing agent for my cotton clothing. She has small children who often eat breakfast in their nightwear and as with all small children spillages sometimes occur on their clothes. She finds a biological powder helpful in keeping their pyjamas clean and was reluctant to switch without understanding why I recommended a non- bio wash.
It is a difficult subject and much open to discussion whether biological or non-biological washing agents are better to use, so here are some of the thoughts behind my recommendation;
My nightwear is all made of 100% cotton which is a lovely soft, natural fibre that has been spun to make a smooth thread from which to weave a fabric which is comfortable to wear and kind to sensitive skin. This fabric is of plant origin and the plant material it is made of is itself made of cellulose.
Biological washing agents contain enzymes which help to remove dirt and stains from laundry such as egg, chocolate, sweat and grease and they are very good at their job helping to keep clothes clean and fresh but one of the enzymes used in some brands is "cellulase" which is included in the formula to help keep cotton fabrics smoother by "digesting" any small, loose pillling threads. Now, to my mind, if an enzyme can digest loose pilling on cottons then over time it will start to act on the threads of the fabric itself, weakening them and causing premature wear to the garment.
We all like our clothes to be clean and stain free and we like to help to protect the environment by washing at low temperatures and it is certainly true that a biological washing agent will enable you to enjoy all of this but there is also some opinion that the enzymes included in biological washing agents can be the cause of irritation to sensitive skin. In truth this may not be the case, it may not be the enzymes themselves which do this - it could be a failure to adequately rinse the garment or it could be another ingredient in the washing agent but if a garment has been purchased in order to help keep the wearer comfortable then to my mind there should be minimal cause for risk to exposure to irritation in the washing process.
It is with these ideas in mind that I recommend regular use of a non-biological washing agent. If a garment is unlucky enough to become stained with a substance that a biological liquid or powder could easily remove then a once off wash will do no harm. Equally, the occasional addition to the wash of a little oxygen based whitening powder will help to keep an older white nightdress from becoming dingy looking but I personally would not use either of these on a regular basis.
However, the guidance I give is, after all, a recommendation only and the most important part of owning a lovely cotton garment is to take pleasure in wearing it so ultimately how you decide to launder it is a matter of personal choice.
I hope you find this helpful,
Kay at Victoria Goss