How can a bacteria clean a countertop? It just seems counter-intuitive (pun intended), but it happens. Probiotics have four main mechanisms for cleaning, and today, we’ll cover a big one—Postbiotics!
Okay, so what are postbiotics? They are basically anything that a probiotic secretes, or any byproducts of the probiotic breaking down another substance. The most popular example of this is yeast releasing alcohol, but different types of probiotics can release different postbiotics. This is one of the most important reasons that our products use a consortium of ten or more microbes grown together, rather than the one, or at most 2-3 strains used in almost all probiotic products. That way, we can select the microbes that are best suited for the job.
Probiotics create three main postbiotics that are useful for cleaning—organic acids, hydrogen peroxide, and biosurfactants. All three are used by the bacteria to try and out-compete other microbes by making the environment unsuitable for them, but we use them to clean, and they work really well. Organic acids have disinfectant properties, and hydrogen peroxide, more commonly known as oxygen bleach, works well at cleaning, whitening, and inhibiting the growth of unwanted microbes.
Biosurfactants, though, are the real magic ingredient. These are secreted by the bacteria specifically to break down biofilms made by competing microbes. Biofilms are everywhere—the plaque on your teeth clings to them with a biofilm, pond scum is biofilm, and lesser-known biofilms coat things like countertops and door handles. They help the bacteria stick to surfaces and protect them from both physical cleaning (scrubbing and wiping) and bactericides.
The biosurfactants secreted by our consortium are fantastic cleaning agents, removing regular dirt and those sticky biofilms that so many conventional cleaners leave behind. That is why so many users comment on the gleaming countertops they get after using our cleaners—biofilms that have accumulated since the surface was manufactured are removed, and they really do look as good as new! (read reviews of our all-purpose cleaner here)
The other great thing about biosurfactants is that, just like chemical-based surfactants, they can dismantle germs. The biosurfactant particles actually break down cell walls and carry them off, just like they do to dirt or organic residue. They do not kill “99% of all life forms on a surface” as so many disinfectants proudly claim, because we don’t WANT to kill that many of them—the average surface has 85% benign or helpful microbes, and only 15% are pathogens. What you want is to clear a surface of bad bugs and make sure only the good ones survive, and biosurfactants are an excellent first step. But still, seeing is believing, and you can try out the magic of microbes on your countertops right here!In our next blog, we’ll explain the next step--how probiotics out-hustle microbes that we don’t want with something called “competitive replacement”.