What Is a Laundry Enzyme Presoak?

White shirt in white bowl doing a laundry enzyme presoak next to materials

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

While we all want the instant gratification shown on television commercials when we use a laundry stain remover product, that's not always possible, especially if the stains are heavy. The results are even more disappointing if you choose to use a less expensive, less effective detergent. A presoak with an enzyme-based laundry product like Carbona Oxy Powered Laundry Soaker and a bit of patience will work wonders in removing stains.

What Is a Laundry Enzyme?

Enzymes in laundry products can be naturally occurring or chemically processed elements. Different enzymes target specific soils, and the catalytic action breaks the soil into smaller molecules to be washed away.

  • Protease - degrades protein-based soils
  • Amylase - degrades starch-based or carbohydrate soils
  • Cellulase - breaks down cotton fibers to release soils
  • Lipase - degrades fat-based soils
  • Mannanase - degrades food-based stains
  • Pectinase - degrades fruit-based stains

Enzymes are naturally occurring; they help bread rise faster and increase wine yields. The introduction of enzymes into laundry detergents dramatically changed how we do laundry. For many years the only way to achieve clean laundry was to use boiling water and harsh lye-based soaps.


Enzymes work well in lower water temperatures and require less detergent to clean clothing effectively.

Today, scientists have created industrial biotechnology or "white biotech" which uses enzyme cells or components of cells to generate industrially useful enzymes for laundry detergents. Industrial biotechnology has the potential to save the planet up to 2.5 billion tons of CO2 emissions per year and support building a sustainable future, according to a report from the World Wildlife Fund.

Yellow box with a laundry enzyme presoak product

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

Laundry Enzyme Presoak

Laundry enzyme presoaks are a pre-washing stain removal treatment used to break down protein stains like grass, blood, and baby formula so they can be more efficiently removed during the regular wash cycle. A presoak is necessary when clothes are heavily soiled or stained with oil, protein or tannin stains.

What Is Tannin?

Tannin is any of various soluble astringent complex phenolic substances of plant origin used especially in tanning leather and dyeing textiles, manufacturing ink, clarifying wine and beer, and in medicine.

Laundry Enzyme Presoaks Brands

  • Amway Legacy of Clean Tri-zyme Ultra Concentrated Detergent/Laundry Booster Stain Remover Pre-soak: Tri-zyme is a cleaning booster that features three enzymes and oxygen-based bleach to remove stains and brighten clothing. It can be used in both regular and high-efficiency washers and is safe for septic systems. It can be purchased from an Amway dealer or online from Amazon.
  • Amway Legacy of Clean Prewash Liquid: Plant-based liquid formula presoak. Buy from an Amway dealer or online from Amazon.
  • Whink Game Stain Remover: Specifically designed to remove heavy soil and blood. Available in sports equipment stores and online from Amazon.
  • Biz: Enzyme-based stain remover and laundry booster offered in both powder and liquid formulas. Biz is available in most laundry aisles in grocery stores and mass marketers or online from Amazon.

If you do not have a presoak product on hand, a heavy-duty laundry detergent that contains a high level of enzymes can be substituted to remove the stains. Not every detergent contains enzymes or enough enzymes to be effective. Choose Tide or Persil, both among the most highly effective detergents, for best results.

How to Use Laundry Enzyme Presoaks

Enzyme presoak products can be used to treat any washable fabrics in the washer or in a sink or laundry tub large enough to completely submerge and hold the soiled items in water.

Read the Label Before You Buy

Before you purchase a laundry enzyme stain removal product or a laundry detergent, take a look at the ingredient components listed on the label. A good enzyme presoak product contains an abundance of one or more of the enzymes needed to break down stains on the fabric.

As with any laundry product, it is best to read the product label and follow specific directions. For effective stain removal, use the correct amount of enzyme presoak product in lukewarm water. Mix the presoak well in the water first to make sure it is dissolved and dispersed before adding clothes.

Completely submerge the fabrics and allow the stained clothes to soak the recommended amount of time; at least thirty minutes. Overnight soaking may be needed for heavily stained items.

After soaking, empty the soaking solution. The laundry should then be washed as usual following the fabric care label instructions. There is no need to rinse the clothes before washing.

White bowl with water and packet of laundry enzyme presoak being poured

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida