Monday, February 25, 2013

OxiClean or BIZ? Is there really a difference?: A Guide to Stain Removers Part 1

Ever since I have been doing my own laundry, I have wondered what -- if any -- the difference was between many of the stain removers on the market.  I had always used Oxiclean to soak my linens and cotton dresses until a few years ago I read Alligators, Old Mink, and New Money by Allison and Melissa Houtte, vintage clothing store owners in Brooklyn.  In the book, they have a section of some of the tricks of the trade and one of them was about cleaning vintage garments.  The Houtte sisters' stain remover of choice was BIZ.  They claimed it was gentle yet powerful, so I bought a box and never looked back.  That is until a few weeks ago, when I was discussing cleaning methods with a friend who was going to soak a rayon dress.  That got me to thinking: Is there a difference between Oxi Clean and BIZ?

I found these napkins at the thrift store and thought they would be the perfect samples to test out the differences between the two cleaners.  In all the following photos, the napkin on the left is the one soaked in OxiClean and the one on the right was soaked in BIZ.

While the napkins were soaking, I did a little research on the differences between the two and apparently they are completely different in regards to how they remove the stains.

OxiClean is an oxygen based cleaner, which reacts and activates when it comes in contact with the stain.  This reaction actually alters the color of the stain chemically at the molecular level.  

How it works:  the oxygen breaks away from the H0 (hydrogen peroxide) to clean the stain.  This reaction lasts as long as the cloth is damp and submerged in the solution.  Works best on colored satins and odors.

BIZ is an enzyme cleaner, which breaks down protein, starches, and oils until the stain is gone.  This type of reaction breaks down or "digests" the stains until the stain molecules are gone.  

How it works:  the enzymes need moisture and "food" (i.e. the stain) in order to break down the molecules.  This reaction lasts as long as there is "food" and as long as the cloth stays wet.  Works best on organic stains and odors.

For my experiment, I followed the directions on the box to a T, using the amount of water to cleaner ratio that was recommend.  I soaked them for the same amount of time and during the soaking process I discovered something really interesting.  The OxiClean water never really got brown or showed any signs of release of the dirt that was in the napkin.  This makes sense because of the way OxiClean works.  In fact, the water continued to lighten during the soak -- with some initial sings of the dirt at the beginning and that quickly disappeared the longer the item soaked.  The napkin also got almost completely lighter upon contact with the water.  The BIZ, on the other hand, showed major signs of the dirt in the napkin: the water got brown quickly and after a while I changed it out.  And, it did take a little longer for the napkin to lighten.  This also makes sense after I learned how the BIZ works.

The Results
While both cleaners worked to remove the stains, I feel one worked better: BIZ.  In the photo above you can see how the napkin cleaned with the BIZ came out a brighter white than the napkin soaked in OxiClean, which came out with a slight yellow tint to it.  Although it's very slight, you can definitely tell that one is more yellow than the other.  I feel like the way each of these cleaners work is the major reason for the difference in the results.  To be honest, I don't really like that OxiClean alters the color of the item, especially with my vintage pieces where I want to be as gentle as possible.

I think I will continue to soak with BIZ.  It might take a little more effort (with the changing of the water and a longer soaking time to allow the enzymes to completely "eat" all the "food") but I think the way it removes the stains is a much better method for cleaning my vintage pieces. 

I have a few other this or that stain removers planned, so stay tuned!  ;) 


Pam Kueber said...

Very interesting. Is there a "before" pic?

Heidi@TheMerryMagpieVintage said...

This is really interesting, Emily! So glad you shared. I have a big box of Biz and I don't think I've ever used it! I always reach for my OxiClean but I think that is going to change now.

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billi said...

Thanx for the info. Just found your blog and love it.I make my own laundry powder and have been adding Oxi to it. Now I can just give a little soak to the wash before washing. Does Biz work well on underarm stains? I recently bought an adorable vintage blouse with slight stains.

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Jessica Cangiano said...

Great post - and one that's really timely for me. I usually have stellar luck when it comes to the cleanliness of vintage pieces I buy online, but I recently purchased a matching dress and evening coat from the 1950s that were anything but clean or pleasant smelling (something the seller neglected to mention in their listing). I've tried all my usual tricks (including a spell in the freezer), but still feel like there's a lingering odour and more dirt than I'd like. I've read about both of these products being used on vintage garments before, but haven't tried either. If I can find Biz here in (small town) Canada, I think I'll give it a go with this outfit. (I know you can get Oxi here for sure, so if Biz proves elusive, I'll try Oxi.)

♥ Jessica

Eartha Kitsch said...

So glad to read this. I use Oxi-Clean and have just been kind of "Meh" about it.

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Anonymous said...

I just did this method on a vintage dress that was yellowed. It is like brand new!!! Those pics you posted were what sold me. Thank you!!

Lee Ann said...

Great article! I just finished cleaning some dresses with OxiClean. I will have to try Biz sometime.

Corri said...

Great blog and comparison! I actually used OxiClean on my vintage linens, and it did change the color of the water. However, many stains were lessened them but are still visible, and like you mentioned, brightened the color of the linens significantly. Plus, it is hard to get the cleaner out of the fabric, which leaves a soapy film on them and your hands. I was not aware that BIZ worked well on vintage linens, otherwise would have tried it instead of the OxiClean because I am not satisfied. OxiClean did not totally remove the stain and I am contemplating to use BIZ as a rewash on the linens, especially if it won't harm the linens.