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Couple playing in laundry mat.

The Battelle Smart Laundry Capsule™ Additive: One-Step Cold Water Bleaching

Challenge

Laundry bleaches need activators in order to be effective in cold temperatures. But the bleach and activator can’t be mixed in advance, or they will react with each other before the consumer adds them to the laundry. Battelle wanted to find a way to mix an activator and bleach together in a shelf-stable product for one-step cold water bleaching.   

Solution

In order to make the product shelf stable, we needed a way to keep the bleach and activator from reacting with each other before they were added to the laundry. We used an innovative encapsulation technology to enclose the activator in tiny polymer microcapsules that could be added to liquid bleach. We selected a material for the capsules that would keep the activator safely encapsulated while the product is on the shelf. When the combined bleach and activator is added to the laundry, the microcapsules dissolve, releasing the activator right at the time it is needed to boost bleaching power.   

Outcome

Encapsulating the activator resulted in a shelf-stable product for effective cold water bleaching. Combining the bleach and activator in one product makes it easier for consumers to benefit from the energy savings of cold-water washing without sacrificing performance. And since the polymer capsule is completely biodegradable, there are no leftover beads washed into the water supply. The next generation of microcapsules could eventually be used in a product that combines detergent, bleach and activators for true one-step cold water washing. Battelle’s encapsulation technology can be applied to many other products that require two components to be kept separated until released by a defined trigger such as water, pressure, temperature or pH level.