High-falutin' detergents add expensive enzymes, which break up stains. They really work, but when the wash cycle is over the enzymes go down the drain along with the cheap soap and dirty water. But wait a minute -- didn't they tell us in chemistry class that the whole point of enzymes is that they facilitate reactions without being used up?
Two bright fellows, C.S. Pundir and Nidhi Chauhan, reported to the Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research that they had bound the four most common laundry enzymes to plastic surfaces (a bucket and scrub brush used in pre-washing) in a way that made the enzymes available for at least 200 re-uses over a three-month period. It's a cheaper approach, and a lot less junk in the wastewater, too. It's not commercially available yet, unfortunately.