Enzyme cleaners function by using natural biological substances known as enzymes to speed up the breakdown of the proteins, fats and carbohydrates that make up stains and cause unpleasant smells. While enzyme cleaners are commercially available from cleaning supply manufacturers, it is also possible for people to make their own enzyme cleaners from common household ingredients.
What are enzymes?
Enzymes are proteins that living things use to enhance the rate of certain chemical processes. As they are not used up by the reaction, a small amount of enzyme can affect the rate of chemical reaction of a large amount of material. Enzymes are substrate specific, that is, each kind of enzyme will only increase the speed of reaction for a certain kind of substrate. Enzymes are named after the kind of substance they work on. For example, proteases break down proteins.
How to use enzyme cleaners
Generally speaking, enzyme products must be warmed to body temperature before using in order for the enzymes to work effectively. As they are proteins themselves, using enzyme cleaners with water that is too hot can cook the enzymes so that they cannot function. Chlorine bleach will also deactivate the enzymes and make them ineffective at cleaning. When using homemade enzyme cleaners, it is important to experiment to see what concentration is effective.
Homemade citrus enzyme cleaner
Citrus enzyme cleaner can be made from sugar, water and citrus fruit peels. You can make this cleaner yourself by finely chopping 300 g of citrus fruit peels and mixing the peels with 100 g of brown sugar and 1 litre of water. Leave this mixture to ferment for three months in an airtight container. Open the container every day to allow excess gas to escape.
Uses of enzyme cleaners
Enzyme cleaning products can be effective as a pre-soak for old or dried protein stains such as egg and blood. You can also wash dishes, bathroom floors and toilets with your homemade enzyme cleaner. It can be effective at clearing sink and drain blockages and the citrus elements may also repel insects. Enzyme cleaners are also commonly used to clean pet urine from carpets and furnishings.