Enzyme Washes - Not So Gross After All



Not to get all scientific or gross you out, but from time to time, I leave my epidermis exposed...and occasionally, I even wear clothes that have been treated with the same enzymes used to eliminate clumps of indigestible plant material - fibers, skins, and seed - when they are trapped in people's stomachs. Yup, that's how I roll and whether you know it or not, it's probably how you do too because clothes that are treated with enzyme washes include cellulase, the very same suite of enzymes that are used to clear masses in human stomachs.

So, why would a designer knowingly treat clothing with the same stuff that doctors would use to treat leftover plant material in your stomach? I assure you that it's not ignorance. It's because enzymes washes give clothing a soft feel and an aged, worn look that so many of us are looking for from time to time. And wait until you read about how enzyme washes go about doing this.

Cellulase, the enzyme suite used in enzyme washes, “eat” away exposed cellulose and in the case of jeans, loosen indigo dye particles thus creating the worn, aged look. This begs the question, once these enzymes pop, can they stop? Why yes they can.

When a designer has aged a garment in the oh so perfect way, he or she can turn off the enzymes like a light switch by altering the acidity and/or temperate of the enzyme wash bath. Also, just to alleviate your concerns, while these enzymes might feast on exposed cellulose, they do not weaken the structure or fabric of the garment they are applied to. They make it softer, but no less sturdy.

And for the tree huggers in the crowd, you'll be happy to know that this is one of the most eco friendly wash techniques because these enzymes are biodegradable and they don't leave much of a trace in the water that they are mixed with during the wash process. Finally, the whole process is fairly cost efficient because cellulase ain't playin around. It's strong, a little bit goes a long way, and you don't really need a lot of cellulase for the enzyme bath to be potent and effective.

So folks, wear that enzyme washed gear loud and proud. It looks good and like milk, literally does the body good.

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