For several years now, The Clean Space has been promoting the benefits of all natural, probiotic cleaning detergents to its customers. The results of these probiotic agents vs chemical cleaning agents is undeniable but the science is still a mystery to many.
Despite, being sometimes misunderstood, the pandemic has certainly increased demand for safer cleaning products and probiotics are providing the answer for many. Probiotics have been shown to provide specific health benefits, such as supporting gut and immune health and contributing to the balance of gut microbiota. Probiotics support human health by balancing “good” and “bad” bacteria. Many probiotic products on the market have shown benefits for people with skin conditions, allergies, colds and oral health, weak immune systems and digestive issues. New developments indicate that ‘Environmental Probiotics’ are essential for a balanced and clean indoor environment.
Conventional purification and cleaning methods indiscriminately kill all bacteria harmful and beneficial alike. This causes an imbalanced, sterile environment in which pathogens mutate into resilient superbugs. Alternatively, probiotics compete over and deplete the resources allergens, pathogens and mould thrive on, and help in the elimination and prevention of bad odours due to microbial contamination. Billions of micron-sized probiotics form a protective layer of microflora, which coat and shield surfaces and objects, resulting in a healthy microbiome.
Chemical products used daily, on top of endangering our environment, can no longer clean with optimal efficiency. Additionally, the overuse of cleaners, disinfectants and antibiotics can lead to bacteria starting to resist different chemical agents. To make matters worse, these products are also dangerous for us. By causing a biological imbalance they promote the risk of bacterial infections.
Not only is there a raft of research and scientific studies behind the reasoning for using natural cleaning products day to day, but they make premises feel cleaner too. We have had numerous people, employees and cleaners comment on how the place ‘feels cleaner’ and ‘smells cleaner’.
Our cleaners love these products too –
After having used the probiotic cleaning range for a while, we asked a couple of team members for their opinion. Both confirmed the products give excellent cleaning performance, but the real difference was that they suffered none of the throat or skin side-effects that they’d experienced with other traditional cleaning products.
Here’s some of the longer-term research into probiotics for cleaning in a nutshell.
1 | Two Italian studies investigating the efficacy of probiotic cleaning in hospitals vs. traditional cleaning agents; specifically looking also at their impact on infection control and microbial resistance.
Further Reading: Impact of a Probiotic-Based Cleaning Intervention on the Microbiota Ecosystem of the Hospital Surfaces: Focus on the Resistome Remodulation > Reduction of the microbiological load on hospital surfaces through probiotic-based cleaning procedures: A new strategy to control nosocomial infections >
Italy has been a hotbed for probiotic cleaning clinical trials and academic study. Two similar studies were conducted in 2014 and 2016. The earlier study assessed two wards and the outpatient department and tests took place over 4 months with 11,223 microbiological samples collected in total. The 2016 research was performed with weekly testing over a 6-month period.
The research wanted to evaluate how to reduce contamination of hospital surfaces by pathogens that represents a major concern in healthcare facilities, due to their impact on transmission of hospital-associated infections (HAIs) and related to ongoing fears over drug resistance. Specifically, they were also investigating the efficacy of probiotic cleaning, in direct comparison with traditional chlorine-based treatments.
The reason for the study was that routinely used chemical disinfectants had shown several limitations in controlling infection. They were inefficient in preventing recontamination and could contribute to the development of resistant strains.
By using non-pathogenic probiotic Bacilli (the same active ingredient that our products at The Clean Space use), was effective in stably counteracting the growth of several pathogens that typically contaminate hospital surfaces.
In parallel, the ability of cleanser-derived Bacilli to negatively infect hospitalised patients was also investigated as a related risk factor.
The data showed that a probiotic-based sanitation procedure was significantly more effective (c.80%) in reducing potentially pathogenic microbial loads. Not only this, but the reduced microbial load was stably maintained at low levels for a full 24 hours after application despite of the continuous movement of patients, staff and visitors.
Bacilli spores can germinate and grow on dry inanimate surfaces, thus effectively counteracting the growth of dangerous pathogens.
Strikingly, the probiotic cleansers induced a clear decrease of antibiotic resistance genes in the microbial population. Also importantly, all the six HAI-positive patients hosted in the treated and tested areas tested negative for probiotic Bacilli in their systems, thus adding evidence that probiotics are safe to use in general hospital settings that allow.
The results indicated that a probiotic-based cleaning procedure is active not only in controlling surface microbial contamination but also in lowering drug-resistant species present.
- The use of probiotics was proved effective in reducing surface recontamination and stably decreasing pathogens present by about 80–90% when compared to surfaces treated with conventional cleansers and disinfectants.
- “Taken together, results show that probiotic Bacillus strains can be successfully exploited in sanitising procedures, as they counteract the growth of pathogens and, most importantly, decrease the population harbouring drug resistance genes, which is a global concern and which is ultimately responsible for the onset of the most severe HAIs”.
- Probiotic cleaning agents has a stable effect over time.
- When a chemical-based disinfectant was applied, there was a steep increase in pathogen recontamination within 7 hours of application (doubling or tripling). Conversely, the increase in microbial load after the application of probiotics was modest within the next 24 hours. These findings support the idea probiotic-based solutions “display a long-term effect that strongly lowers the risk of peaks in pathogen loads between consecutive applications”.
2 | A study to answer the question: can probiotic cleaning solutions replace chemicals in dental clinics?
This 2018 study looked at the antibacterial effectiveness of probiotic cleaning in a dental clinic at the University Dental Hospital Sharjah, UAE.
Their cleaning protocol was evaluated by the surface swabbing of three dental clinics routinely cleaned using regular chemical disinfectants. Then, a new probiotic cleaning solution containing Bacillus subtilis was applied for 3 weeks in a selected clinic.
There was a significant reduction of the bacterial counts of various bacterial species (Staphylococci, Streptococci, and Gram-negative rods) from almost all the surfaces in the dental clinic after the application of the probiotic solution compared to the same surfaces cleaned with the regular chemical solutions. This study demonstrated that the use of probiotic cleaning is effective in reducing microbial growth in dental settings.
Despite the short duration of this study, a significant reduction in the microbial counts on most of the tested surfaces was noted.
“Our results are in agreement with recent reports indicating that probiotic-based sanitation had stronger effect on surface pathogens compared to conventional disinfectants”.
They found that probiotic cleaning is better than using chemical disinfectants which usually eliminate surface pathogens immediately; however, they are ineffective in preventing recontamination and pathogens regrowth occurring within a few hours after cleaning. Another disadvantage of using chemical disinfectants is that they enhance the selection of antibiotic-resistant strains.
- The application of probiotic cleaning solutions was found effective in limiting bacterial growth in various different parts of the dental clinic.
- Probiotic cleaning products can reduce the exposure to chemical disinfectants which in turn will reduce the selection and growth of resistant bacteria.
- Probiotic bacteria are able to disturb biofilms that function as a shelter for other pathogens; thus, facilitate their killing and elimination from hard to reach areas. In addition, they are able to kill other bacteria by competing with them for the space and nutrients.
- The effectiveness of probiotic cleaning and the reduction in bacterial count were mostly related to the mechanism of action of the probiotic bacteria “B. subtilis” in the biotechnology cleaning solution, as it can reach to hidden areas that are hard to clean.
3 | Multicentre studies into probiotic cleaning and sanitisation in healthcare settings
Further Reading: Reducing healthcare-associated infections incidence by a probiotic-based sanitation system: A multicentre, prospective, intervention study > Impact of a probiotic-based hospital sanitation on antimicrobial resistance and HAI-associated antimicrobial consumption and costs: a multicenter study >
A more recent 2018, 18-month long study using 24,875 samples from 11,842 patients in six different Italian hospitals looked to evaluate the impact of probiotics in cleaning on HIAs.
The findings showed 54.8% fewer hospital infections when probiotics were used and 100 times fewer antibiotic resistance genes.
This study provides findings that the use of a probiotic-based environmental intervention can be associated with a significant decrease of the risk to contract a HAI during hospitalisation.
- 83% mean average decrease in surface pathogens compared to conventional cleaning procedures.
- The spread of AMR in the hospital environment can be limited by the use of sanitation methods to remodulate the hospital microbiota, leading to lower antimicrobial consumption and costs. This approach might be considered as part of broader infection prevention and control strategies.
- A follow up 2019 trial across five Italian hospitals over 6-months found that the use of probiotic cleaning systems was associated with up to 99% decrease of the antimicrobial resistant genes harboured by surface hospital microbiota, independently of the resistance types originally present in each individual setting. Antimicrobial drug consumption associated with HAI onset showed a global 60.3% decrease, with a 75.4% decrease of the associated costs.