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What is the chemical relationship between various clothing materials, contaminants and laundry products?

November 07,2023

Laundry is a seemingly simple task, but it's actually a big learning curve.

What is the chemical relationship between various clothing materials, pollutants and detergents?

We usually wear clothing materials are natural fibers: cotton, hemp, silk, wool. Synthetic fibers:polyester, nylon, spandex, viscose, acrylic, the above is more often wear the material, these materials because of the different chemical structure, so to use different dyes to dye, some dyes combined with a strong, and some are not.

The least likely to lose color is polyester, the rest of the fibers have varying degrees of color loss, with silk andnylonbeing the easiest.

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How do stains wash out?

Doing laundry is something we all experience every day, but have you ever studied the inner workings of laundry?

Stains are washed away, essentially the process of water wetting the dirt, as long as it can be wet, it is easy to wash off. Like clothes with dirt and dust on top, a wash of water is almost off, but if you eat hot pot stained with grease, it's a big problem, and it's hard to wash it off without adding some good detergent.

The main ingredient of detergent is surfactant, which is like a magnet, one end firmly grasp the water, the other end firmly grasp the oil, so that the oil can be wet, so that the stain is washed away in the water. Of course, the stain is not easy to wash away not only depends on what type of stain you are stained, but also has a close relationship with the fiber type. Cotton is a good stain remover, but chemical fibers are not as good. Think back to the winter down jacket or outdoor rushing jacket cuffs and collar, are easy to dirty and not easy to wash. That's because the majority of chemical fibers in clothing are not hydrophilic, that is, it is difficult to be wetted by water, stains are more likely to stain these clothes, and it is difficult to wash out of the clothes. These stubborn stains are difficult to clean completely, so you need to use a stronger detergent such as "Collar Cleaner" to clean them.

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How do you go about washing your normal clothes?

When clothes of different composition and different colors are washed together, it is best to wash them separately and individually so that they are not prone to stringing colors.

Water-based stains

These stains are easily removed with water and surfactants. However, they contain substances that are difficult to remove, such as pigments, tannins, sugary components and colored components. To eliminate these elements, it is necessary to use specific stain removers. Washing with water removes most water-based stains (except for the part with pigments), while dry cleaning does not. As a complex stain, due to the various pigments, tannins or colored components, we recommend the use of detergents and degradation of the stain with a complete formulation of anionic and nonionic surfactants, chelating agents and enzymes (in order to attack the stain in several ways).

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Oil Stains

Oil stains are typically composed of triglycerides, synthetic and natural oils, or fatty acids. Their predominantly non-polar structure makes them hydrophobic. Therefore, to remove them, it is necessary to use surfactants or degreasing solvents. They are easily removed when washed with solvents, while washing with water can pose more challenges. Highly concentrated broad-spectrum pre-treatments can be used to remove oil stains during wet cleaning. Degreasing agents that can remove the fat portion and possible related components must be used. To eliminate these stains, it is recommended to use products with a high concentration of non-ionic surfactants, which can emulsify and eliminate stains effectively.

Protein Stains

Protein stains, also known as enzymatic stains, are composed of proteins. Proteins, when denatured (a process that alters the protein's structure due to external factors), become insoluble. Therefore, proteins can irreversibly fix themselves onto fabric and cannot be removed. Proteins can be denatured in different ways: excessively acidic pH, heat, or chemical oxidation. To avoid this process, it is recommended to start by removing the protein component to eliminate stains. Other detergents can then be used to remove other components. To eliminate these stains, it is advisable to use detergents with a high concentration of surfactants, especially enzymatic detergents. Specifically, the detergent must contain protease enzymes (also known as INCI Bacillus protease) to eliminate protein stains. For broad-spectrum effectiveness, it is recommended that the detergent also contains amylase enzymes, as these enzymes work in synergy with proteases to enhance their effectiveness.

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Blood Stains

Blood stains are derived from proteins. The typical red color is provided by a protein called hemoglobin. If this protein denatures, it permanently fixes itself to the fabric, leaving a red stain that cannot be reversed. To eliminate these stains, it is recommended to use detergents with a high concentration of surfactants, especially enzymatic detergents. The detergent must contain protease enzymes (also known as INCI Bacillus protease) to remove protein stains. After treatment with a degreasing agent, it is advisable to use disinfectants or oxidizing agents (such as peroxyacetic acid, hydrogen peroxide, or sodium hypochlorite) to disinfect the fabric.

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Oxidizable Stains

Oxidizable stains typically have bright colors, ranging between red and yellow. The colored parts are usually composed of metal oxides (such as rust) or light-absorbing chromophores. Rust stains originate from the oxidation of iron, and when in contact with fabric, iron transfers these oxides. Ferric oxide (Fe2O3) can be dissolved by strong acidic compounds and specific substances. To eliminate rust stains, a very specific stain remover must be used. There are different types of rust removers on the market, primarily based on acids or chelating agents. Among various types, compounds based on hydrofluoric acid or its derivative salts can be found. These are one of the fastest and most effective substances for removing rust, but compounds based on hydrofluoric acid or its salts have extremely high toxicity and danger and must be used with extreme caution and complete safety. Other rust removers are based on phosphoric acid or oxalic acid. These stain removers work slightly slower (we are talking about differences of several tens of seconds), but they are safer and less toxic. Finally, for oxidizable stains other than rust, it is recommended to use strong oxidizing agents such as hydrogen peroxide or peroxyacetic acid to oxidize and remove the stains.

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Wine Stains

These fall into the category of oxidizable stains. The issue with these stains is the color they leave on the fabric. This is due to the presence of tannins in wine. Tannins are, in fact, dyes used in ancient times. Tannins are composed of different polyphenols developed by plants. The production of these compounds is for the purpose of avoiding attacks by some predators and insects. There are two different ways to tackle this: - For many stains that are quite extensive on the fabric, it is recommended to directly add strong oxidizing agents based on peroxides or hypochlorite salts to the wash solution. - In the case of localized stains, specific stain removers containing a combination of surfactants and oxidizing components (usually based on peroxides) can be used.

Sweat and Urine Stains

Sweat and urine stains typically consist of salts, volatile, and non-volatile organic components released by the human body, such as urea and pheromones. The saltwater component can be removed with water, but the organic components (resulting in yellow halos and odor) are challenging to eliminate. Sweat also produces a strong odor and yellow halos due to the degradation of pheromones and fatty substances. To remove these stains, it is necessary to use a properly balanced stain remover to eliminate both the saltwater and organic components. We recommend stain removers with a high concentration of anionic and non-ionic surfactants, as well as specific molecules for breaking down unpleasant odors.

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Lipid-Soluble Stains

Lipid-soluble stains are stains that are dissolved by solvents. In this category of stains, we find stains such as fats, lipsticks, oils, dyes, waxes, and more. Lipid-soluble stains are not water-soluble (hence hydrophobic), so it is necessary to use a special stain remover that can remove both the part that can be removed with a solvent and the pigmented part, which may leave colored halos. To remove lipid-soluble stains, it is recommended to use solvent-based stain removers (acetates, esters, ketones, diols, etc.) and non-ionic surfactants. The core of this stain remover must be a balanced solvent formula to eliminate various lipid-soluble stains.

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