Bio vs non-bio washing powder - what's the difference?

Bio vs non-bio washing powder - what's the difference?

. 6 min read

To bio or not to bio?

That is the question. When it comes to washing powder, anyway.

As well as choosing a brand, you need to choose between biological and non-biological washing powder.

But what's the difference between bio and non-bio washing powder? And, more importantly, how do you know which one is right for you and your needs?

We sent our crack team of investigators to find the answers and here's what they came back with.

What is bio washing powder?

Bio is short for biological, which is also a hint as to how it works.

Bio detergents are formulated with  enzymes: biological catalysts that get to work on tough to remove stains and get your washing clean. You'll find these in any bio based laundry detergents, whether it's washing powder, washing liquid or washing pods.

The enzymes work by breaking down dirt, fat and grease into small particles that can be removed from the fabric more easily when it's in the washing machine leaving you with guaranteed clean clothes after every wash.

So why would you choose bio washing powder?

Let's take a look at the pros and cons.

The pros of using bio washing powder

  • Bio washing powders are super effective at removing common stains and can even tackle tough stains with ease. No more worrying about food stains or wine spillages.
  • These powders are designed to work at  lower temperatures, so they're ideal for washing at 30–40ºC to keep your clothes clean and smelling fresh.
  • Thanks to the effectiveness of the stain removing enzymes, bio detergents are  better suited for a quick wash  - great for a busy parent.

The cons of using bio washing powder

  • Bio washing powders are not designed for use in warmer washes. Temperatures above 40ºC can actually stop the enzymes from working.
  • Some people find that biological powders cause an itchy rash. They can also  aggravate sensitive skin  conditions like eczema and psoriasis. This can be a reaction to the enzymes, but can also be caused by chemicals or heavy fragrances in the powder.
  • The enzymes can damage delicate fabrics, like wool and silk, so biological powder is not always advisable in this case.
  • The enzymes in a biological detergent can also cause  colouring fading  of bright coloured clothing and fabrics
Laundry clothes hanging from a washing line

What is non-bio washing powder?

Non-bio is short for non-biological, but you probably guessed that already.

And you'd be right in thinking that it doesn't contain enzymes. Instead, non-bio detergents use other powerful cleaning agents and keep away from the use of any harsh chemicals.

So what are the pros and cons for choosing non-bio washing powder?

The pros of using non-bio washing powder

  • Non-bio washing powder is still effective at higher temperatures, so it's ideal for sheets and towels and other items that need to be washed above 40ºC.
  • Non-bio detergents have a gentle formula which is kinder on dry skin and sensitive skin, but more specifically, babies' skin.

The cons of using non-bio washing powder

  • Some people find non-bio powders are less effective at lower temperatures. This really depends on what you're washing and how badly stained it is.
  • Although non-bio washing powder works well on everyday stains, deeper and more stubborn stains might need an added stain remover.
Fresh jumpers washed and folded

Is non-bio washing powder better than bio washing powder?

It largely depends on what you're washing and the results you're looking for.

Some people prefer to use bio for everything, even their hot washes. They find the enzymes still work before the water heats up to 40ºC and this is often good enough.

Others prefer non-bio because it's gentler on their delicates and reduces the chance of any skin irritation. Families with young children for instance will benefit from a non-biological detergent as they're much safer on sensitive skin.

Some people buy both bio and non-bio detergents and decide which one to use based on what they're washing or how tough the stains are that they need to remove.

When to use bio washing powder

Bio washing powders work best on standard fabrics at temperatures below 40ºC.

If you have a dirty job or live with an active family, you may be used to dirtier washing with more stubborn, ground-in stains such as grass stains and sweat stains.

Bio powders should be more successful at removing those resilient stains at lower temperatures and on the first attempt, which is better for the environment. Bio powders are much more beneficial if you need to run quick washes from time to time, a life saver if you usually have tonnes of washing to get done over the weekends.

When to use non-bio

Non-bio powders are more versatile. They're still fully effective at higher temperatures and can be used safely on delicates, and with fewer chemicals, non-bio products are much safer on sensitive skin.

If you have a baby in the house, the non-bio formula is gentler on their delicate skin. It's also fully effective at  60ºC, which is the recommended temperature  for keeping your baby's cloth nappies sanitary.

Is bio or non-bio better for the environment?

This question is a tough one to answer and it's because there isn't a definitive answer. It really comes down to personal preference.

The enzymes in bio laundry products allow us to wash our clothes and fabrics at a lower temperature and for a shorter time, but this also means we're  flushing enzymes into the watercourse. However, whilst a non-bio laundry product has fewer chemicals it also lacks the presence of enzymes, meaning we need to run our washing machines at  higher temperatures which uses more energy.

Which laundry detergent is best for me?

Bio detergents 

If you're looking for a powerful and bio detergent to tackle those stubborn stains in a quick wash, we recommend Persil's Bio range. It has a Celluclean® technology with optical brighteners for whiter whites and is effective when used at lower temperatures.  Persil Bio Washing Liquid 1.995L  is an easy to pour liquid detergent that makes light work of heavy washing loads by removing stubborn stains, even in a quick 30°C wash.

Washing powder is an alternative to laundry liquid and will cost you less per wash.  Persil Bio Washing Powder 8.385kg  costs just 11p a wash and will last you an impressive 130 washes. If you're more new school and prefer the convenience of washing pods,  Persil Bio Laundry Capsules  are an all in one that can help save time for people with busier lives.

Non-bio detergents

Maybe you're looking for a non-bio washing detergent that is gentle on skin but packs the cleaning power to breakdown tough stains?

Well it's good news all round because Persil runs the show when it comes to laundry. You've got the option of their non-bio product range which includes  Persil Non Bio Washing Liquid 1.56L,  Persil Non Bio Washing Powder 8.385kg  and  Persil Non Bio Washing Capsules.

With a Persil non-bio laundry detergent, you won't have the biological enzyme present so it's much safer for sensitive skin. You just need to remember you'll need higher temperature washes when cleaning your clothes.

How about natural washing detergents? 

Brands like Ecover, Method and Bio-D have helped solve the conundrum of environmentally friendly laundry detergents with a range of eco-friendly laundry liquids that are kind to your skin and to the planet. Their plant-based formulas are hypoallergenic and great to switch to if you have a history of skin complaints or simply want to do your bit for the planet.

Natural detergents are free from optical brighteners. Now you're probably thinking, isn't that a bad thing? Whilst they can help brighten up your clothes, over time  optical brighteners will damage  the colours in your clothing and cause fading.

You can find our eco-friendly ranges of laundry detergent products below:

Ecover Laundry Detergents

Method Laundry Detergents

Bio-D Laundry Detergents