Optical Brighteners- guide For many years laundry detergents are battling against each other to win the most coveted title of the brightest white. In order to make fabrics look bright and clean, there are many companies that use what is known as optical brighteners in their detergent. But what is optical brightener and how does it work and what environmental problems can occur from their use? This article offers opinion about the same. Optical Brighteners are also known by the name of brightening agents, optical whiteners, fluorescent bleaches, etc. These are chemicals designed to make fabrics clean, bright and the best. Some of the best optical brighteners includes coumarins, benzaxazolyl, naphthotriazolylstilbenes, naphthylimide and diaminostilbene disulfonates. These ingredients present the laundry detergents, but are not shown. Hereâ€™s a sneak peek on what is optical brighteners and how does it work: Can you recall your grandmother using a bluing agent to make white bright. Bluing agents reduces yellow tinge, but optical brighteners act in a different way. These agents absorb excess ultraviolet light and emit it back as visible blue light. This blue light masks yellow tinge present in the treated material and makes it look bright than it would appear otherwise to the eye. The clothes will not look bright and clean unless you use brightening agents.
Optical brighteners lose its effectiveness unless they remain on the fabric after cleaning. Clothes once washed in detergents containing these agents will have a chemical residue left behind the fabric. It is why line-dried clothing often feels stiff unless it is fluffed in the dryer. Does it affect your skin? Majority of times, these brighteners are major cause of skin rashes, as fragrance and dyes are used by the brighteners, so individuals with sensitive skin should not use such kind of optical brighteners. Eye irritation is also a common problem that people face. These agents are made from: Stillbenes- Stillbenes is a hydro-carbon based isomer. It is not only used as an optical brightener, but it is a primary agent in the making of estrogen compounds. It occurs in plants and is useful in making dyes and pigments. Umbelliferone- It is a crystal like yellow white substance that is available in carrots and other plants. The chemical is useful because it has an ability to absorb ultra violet radiation at different wavelength. Besides using it as an optical brightening agent, it is used in the production of lotions and sun screen. Fluorescent Brightener OB- It is a whitener generally used in the preparation of paints, inks, polyester and solvent based paints. This chemical produces natural reflective effect. A fluorescent based brightener is used for preparation of plastics. It is mainly used in making plastic toy and utensils. Majority of the laundry detergents contain some kind of optical brighteners and it is a fact that is not apparent on the label. Some of the detergents that use this brighteners include All liquid, Arm and Hammer liquid, Gain, Purex and Tide. In a nutshell, optical brighteners are a kind of chemical agents that brightens up the clothes.