Mushrooms Might Hold the Secret to Clean Laundry

A new company is using fungus enzymes to treat stains.

This story appears in the June 2018 issue of National Geographic magazine.

When you hear the words “laundry detergent,” what comes to mind? Probably not mushrooms. But a Danish firm called Novozymes is using the fungi to make laundry cleaners more effective, environmentally friendly, and energy efficient.

Read about the superfood qualities of mushrooms.

Specifically, the company extracts mushroom enzymes that break down the sometimes tough materials that the fungi feed on. Finding the most effective enzyme to remove any stain—chocolate ice cream, say, or grass—could lead to better detergents that work at lower temperatures, using less energy per load. And they’d be biodegradable.

“Enzymes are nature’s own technology,” says Novozymes CEO Peder Holk Nielsen.

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