WHAT MAKES WIN SO DIFFERENT?
Our web site has been under construction for a long time. One of the holdups has been this page.
So we decided to share the entire in-depth story before we edit it down. We know this is long and has a lot of details. We promise a more succinct version soon.
But until that's ready, we decided to geek out and dive in instead of just hanging up a "coming soon" sign.
ACTIVEWEAR IS DIFFERENT
Activewear fabrics are designed to stretch and to wick moisture away from your skin. They are "hydrophobic" or water repelling. Because oil and water are opposites, that automatically makes them "oleophilic" or oil attracting. The oils from your skin bond to the fabrics, which is why activewear often develops a persistent smell, and why colors fade over time. Eww.
All detergents use surfactants to dissolve oils into washwater. But oil molecules are too big to dissolve, so they need to be broken up into fragments before the surfactants can work. Most detergents use enzymes for that, but enzymes are very lock-and-key: you need exactly the right enzyme to break up exactly the right molecule. Most detergent manufacturers include a collection of different enzymes for all of the locks they might need to fit, like carrying around a big keyring. But surprisingly, the most common detergent enzymes (proteases for protiens, lipases for fats, and amylases for starch) are not very good at breaking down the kinds of oils found in sweat.
SO WIN IS Different
WIN uses oxygen ions as its primary active ingredient instead of enzymes. Oxygen ions are very effective at breaking down any kind of organic molecule, and at disrupting that oleophilic attraction. They are not molecule specific like enzymes. We have a single "master key" that works on everything.
Spandex fibers are known to be less stable in alkaline (high pH or basic) environments. This is a well studied issue in the intense chemistry used in manufacturing and dyeing fabrics, but even in household laundry we believe there is a long term negative effect on stretch fabrics from repeated alkaline washes.
But most surfactants and enzymes require an alakaline environment, so MOST DETERGENTS ARE ALKALINE! That means every time you wash your activewear in regular detergent, you're doing a little bit of damage. Spandex loses its stretch, compression loses its effectiveness, and fibers start to snap and form pills. The labels on most performance wear say to wash with cold in order to slow down the reaction and reduce this effect.
WIN IS ONE OF THE ONLY DETERGENTS THAT IS NOT ALKALINE. Oxygen ions require a low pH formula, so we use different surfactants that pair well with oxygen ions. Since WIN is one of the only detergents using oxygen ions, it's one of the only low pH detergents.
- You can use WIN with hot water, which always gets things cleaner. Anyone who has ever cleaned a frying pan knows that hot water removes oil better than cold.
- Synthetics washed with WIN seem to last longer. Our lab data is preliminary and we're still doing more research into the exact mechanisms. Hundreds of thousands of customers make it clear that WIN works; knowing exactly why is a little more challenging. Watch this space!
WHAT does all that mean?
When you wash with WIN, you'll see some effects right away and some effects over time.
- WIN removes persistent odors. Everyone's skin chemistry is a little different, and everyone's nose is a little different, and every fabric is a little different, so expect some variation. But expect us to be better than anything else you've tried.
- WIN brightens colors. By removing the grimy buildup and films that form on oleophilic fibers, the color can shine through. If you've heard of laundry stripping, it's the same idea but with low pH instead of high pH chemistry. And MUCH safer for your clothes.
- WIN removes stains. Running and yoga clothes usually only get "dirty" by getting sweaty. But workout clothes and sports uniforms get their share of stains too: ketchup, ice cream, grass, even blood. The same chemistry that breaks up organic molecules and breaks the bonds with oleophilic fibers works wonders on most stains.
- Preserves stretch and compression. Sports bras, yoga pants, leggings, compression sleeves, cycling shorts, and running tights all last longer and perform better.
- Reduces pilling. Pills form when fibers snap and roll up into a little ball. Regular detergents eat away at spandex and other synthetics, making pilling more likely. WIN doesn't, so you should see less pilling.
- Reduces thinning. Stretch fabrics thin for a variety of reasons, but the most common is that the fibers "relax", get longer, and don't recover to their proper lengh. Or they snap in two places, leaving a loose thread. Since WIN doesn't degrade the spandex, you'll see less thinning. There's also some preliminary evidence that WIN causes fibers to tighten up which makes them thicker and more compressive.
- Fabrics wick better. The effect of built up grime and oil is subtle, but can lead to less wicking performance. For baselayers and other garments meant to keep you warm, keeping water off your skin is vital.
We care immensely about our impact on the environment. The different chemistry of WIN means there's less impact on wastewater, which means less impact on rivers, lakes, and oceans. Here's how:
- WIN's low pH formula reduces breakage of synthetic fabrics, so they shed fewer fibers into the washwater. Those little fibers act like microplastics, persisting for years and getting into animals and ecosystems. By helping your clothes last longer and shed less, WIN helps you reduce your impact too.
- WIN does not use any enzymes. In all of the literature regarding detergent enzymes, there's a lot of discussion about how enzymes reduce the amount of surfactants needed, but very little about their persistence in the environment. WIN accomplishes the same reduction of surfactants with oxygen ions instead of enymes. The only persistent waste product of oxygen ions is... oxygen! So with WIN you don't have to worry about what all those enzymes are doing out in the wild.
- WIN Free & Clear meets the EPA's strict requirements for its Safer Choice program. That means all of our ingredient sourcing is audited to ensure that we have as small a footprint as possible. The only formula difference in Active Fresh is the addition of fragrance, which meets the strict IFRA standards, and dye, which also meets environmental impact standards. (Safer Choice does not certify scented products.)
- WIN is certified cruelty-free by the Leaping Bunny program. Company wide, that means that not only have we committed not to do any animal testing, but all of our suppliers have also committed and certified that they do not perform any animal testing with the ingredients we purchase from them.
- The detergent industry has focused on the positive environmental impact of consuming less energy by washing in cold water. We agree!!! If your clothes get clean in cold water, then by all means wash on cold. But washing twice on cold has a much bigger impact than washing once on warm or hot, which you can do with WIN if you need to.