Testing begins to assess probiotics as alternative cleaning agent to chemicals

Company founders Samantha Kitchen and Richard Greenwood

A Bolton business is set to challenge the chemical industry with the launch of bacteria-friendly cleaning products.

We Are Probiotic co-founder Samantha Kitchen believes that cleaning with nature’s own beneficial bacteria is the way forward – and is flying the flag for a transition from simply ‘eco-friendly’ to verifiably ‘earth-beneficial’ products.

Thanks to support from GC Business Growth Hub’s Eco Innovation team, the company has now embarked on a year-long study in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) to test probiotic cleaners against standard products.

The Hub is part of The Growth Company and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Brewed at a farm in Wiltshire, probiotic products have shown to be far more effective at cleaning than their chemical equivalents.

Evidence suggests they can protect a surface from re-contamination for up to three days after cleaning, the firm said.

Once the data from the MMU study has been finalised, Samantha plans to break into the commercial market, initially targeting the hospitality and leisure sector.

Having completed a degree in Environmental Science in 2018, Samantha has recently embarked on a Master’s course in Environmental Management and sees rigorous scientific study as crucial to growing the business.

She said: “We’re wary of ‘green wash’ and over-egging it in our marketing.

“This is a relatively new way of cleaning, so to successfully sell it to consumers we have to explain what the science suggests they can achieve.

“But we can’t make grand claims or be over-certain in any of our explanations without direct evidence.”

She added: “Last year, we undertook a trial in a care home which gave us incredible results. But we need to be able to replicate this many times in a laboratory environment for it to hold any weight.

“Our aim with the MMU study is to have a published research paper in the next two years, and we hope there will be many more studies to increase awareness of these incredible little cleaners.”

The partnership with MMU was made possible with the support of the Hub, which helped secure 50% of the funding through its Innovation Voucher scheme to get the project off the ground.

Dharma Nurse, senior innovation development manager at the Hub, said: “We Are Probiotic is an innovative company that is challenging the industry with its eco-friendly sustainable cleaning products.

“Research into the effectiveness of probiotic cleaners is still in its early days, but this study is going to have a massive impact on the sector.

“It will provide Samantha and her team with huge opportunities to accelerate the company’s growth.”

Innovation Vouchers enable small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Greater Manchester to apply for up to £5,000 funding to access expertise, research and specialist facilities to accelerate the development of innovative products and services.