Survey of microbes currently used in cleaning products

Known uses of these products

Table 9.1 provides a broad sample of what has been found through a search of publicly available information (scientific literature, patent databases, commercial websites, etc.) on current uses of microbial-based cleaning products and the types of micro-organisms they contain.

It thus appears that microbes (both as vegetative cells and as spores) are found in a wide variety of cleaning products and treatment applications where chemical agents have traditionally been applied for the same end uses. It should be noted that a large number of additional commercial websites were found advertising the sale of such products but without providing any specific details on the formulation of their products.

Although it is not within the scope of this chapter, there appears to be little publicly available information (aside from anecdotal evidence such as product testimonials) on the effectiveness of these products.

Microbial species used in these products

This section provides brief summaries of some of the microbial species that have been identified as being the active ingredients in these products.

Bacillus spp.

The most prevalent microbial species contained in these products appear to be those from the genus Bacillus. Most Bacillus species are commonly found soil micro-organisms which have the ability to form endospores in response to extreme environmental conditions. Of these, B. subtilis appears to be the one the most commonly identified. It is generally considered to be non-pathogenic and has been used as a probiotic and in the production of fermented foods (Hong et al., 2008) as well as a production organism for enzymes in detergents (Adisesh et al., 2011). B. licheniformis and B. amyloliquefaciens strains have also been used for this purpose (Adisesh et al., 2011). B. polymyxa strains have also been used as production organisms for topical antibiotics (Gelmetti, 2008).

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