Enzyme cleaners are non-toxic solutions that utilize a combination of enzymes to remove dirt and stains. Since enzyme cleaners are non-toxic, they are safe to use around animals and children. Many people use enzyme cleaners for carpets and upholstery to remove stains and odors, specifically those that result from pets. In addition, enzyme cleaners are used in laundry detergents and contact lenses.

What is an Enzyme?

An enzyme is a protein that helps speed up chemical reactions. Enzymes attach themselves to a particular substrate and help break that substrate down. There are certain enzymes used for the different types of stains and soils. A protease enzyme breaks down protein-based stains, lipolase enzymes break down fat-based stains, and amylase enzymes break down starch-based stains.

Enzymes can attach to more than one substrate, so adding an enzyme cleaner to a load of laundry or a carpet cleaning solution can help break down a variety of stains and odors.

Using Enzymes

There are enzyme cleaners available that are targeted to specific types of stains or odors. Many pet care companies sell enzyme cleaners aimed at removing urine stains and odors from carpets and furniture. These enzyme cleaners use an oxidation method to remove the stain and odor. When the enzyme cleaner soaks into the urine stain, it helps catalyze a chemical reaction to remove the residue. The enzyme itself is not affected by the chemical reaction, but rather attaches itself further to the substrate, helping to break down the molecules in the stain. This breakdown helps release the molecules causing the stain and odor and results in their removal from the carpet or other material.

What They Don't Do

While enzyme cleaners are able to chemically break down both stains and odors, they do not provide sterilization or any anti-bacterial properties during the cleaning action. Enzyme cleaners can work in conjunction with antibacterial cleaners, however, to provide a combination of spot removal and sterilization when it is necessary.