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5 Must Haves For Natural Cleaning

The idea of using natural cleaning products or products with more natural ingredients in place of their readily available, toxic counterparts has seen a massive rise in popularity in the past 5-10 years. A large part of this drive is the realization over time what these chemical cleaners are not only doing to our health but the environment.

Individually many of these ingredients can cause serious mucus membrane irritation, respiratory distress, and other seriously concerning health effects. Many readily available multi-purpose cleaners are a Laundry list of these chemicals mixed together, amplifying their toxicity. So we look to natural cleaning alternatives to preserve the health and safety of ourselves, our families, and the environment.

soapy sponge - homebiotic

How natural is natural?

The rise in demand for natural cleaning products has resulted in the practice of greenwashing. Originating in 1986, the term greenwashing is used to reference companies and their products that are designed, marketed, and labeled to appear more environmentally friendly than they actually are.

The rise in demand for natural cleaning products has resulted in the practice of greenwashing. Originating in 1986, the term greenwashing is used to reference companies and their products that are designed, marketed, and labeled to… Click To Tweet

leaf on sandy beach - HomebioticWhile there are instances of greenwashing occurring unintentionally, a more troubling trend is companies utilizing false environmental claims as a marketing strategy to capture consumers. A common form of greenwashing is the use of nature imagery to convey the idea that the product comes from natural origins.

Another common instance is when products claim to be made from “recycled” or “post-consumer” materials; however, these products are made by workers in exploitive conditions in factories that are not environmentally friendly. Almond milk, for instance, exploded on the market as a more ethical and environmentally friendly milk alternative to traditional dairy. We now know that although no livestock is required to make almond milk, the amount of power, pesticides, and water needed to create almond milk is not responsibly sustainable.

It takes 15 gallons of water to make 16 almonds. This is an issue because many of the crops used are grown in California, a state already suffering from significant drought issues and soil erosion due to lack of natural groundwater. On top of water usage, almond crops require multiple pesticides, many of which kill the already endangered honey bee population.

It takes 15 gallons of water to make 16 almonds. This is an issue because many of the crops used are grown in California, a state already suffering from significant drought issues and soil erosion due to lack of natural groundwater. Click To Tweet

tall trees in a forest - homebioticWays To Be More Environmentally Friendly

The perfect opportunity to make a lower environmental impact is to clean up your cleaning supplies. There is a laundry list of toxic ingredients often found in cleaning products, some of which are known carcinogens. Here are some readily available options to keep your home clean:

Vinegar

USE IT FOR – window cleaner, keeping laundry fresh, removing hard water build-up, removing mold, washing floors, home-made multi-purpose cleaner

Create your own multipurpose cleaner using a 1:1 ratio of cleaning vinegar to the water. This mixture can be used on almost any surface in your house to keep harmful microbes in check. It’s important to remember that vinegar is extremely acidic and should not be used on hardwood, granite, natural stone, and used in irons.

While vinegar is completely environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and biodegradable, it’s important to know that many mass-produced kinds of vinegar are processed in very non environmentally friendly ways using petrochemicals. Be sure you’re purchasing all-natural vinegar with no chemical additives.

hydrogen peroxide for plant care - homebioticHydrogen Peroxide

USE IT FOR – killing mold, removing stains, disinfecting, plant care

Using readily available 3% hydrogen peroxide is one of the best, most effective ways to successfully kill mold. When hydrogen peroxide breaks down you are left with only water and oxygen, no additional chemicals to potentially harm yourself or the environment.

When using hydrogen peroxide it’s important to allow for about 5-10 minutes of active oxygenation to ensure an adequate amount of time to disinfect the area.

If you are purchasing oxygen bleach, typically created using hydrogen peroxide and sodium carbonate, ensure that what you are purchasing is chlorine-free. Chlorine causes significant irritation to mucous membranes and when washed into waterways it can pose a toxicity threat to organisms in the water and soil.

Tea Tree Essential Oil

USE IT FOR – laundry deodorizer, pest control on houseplants, multipurpose cleaner, antifungal cleaner

Tea tree oil is a distilled oil from the leaves of the melaleuca plant. It has long been admired for its anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antifungal properties. It poses little to no risk of dermatitis when applied directly to the skin which makes it a great option to add to your own multipurpose cleaner. Dilute a teaspoon of tea tree oil with one cup of water in a spray bottle to make a ready-to-use antiviral spray for surfaces.

castile soap - homebioticCastile Soap

USE IT FOR – laundry soap, dish soap, hand soap, multipurpose cleaner

Castile soap is a blend of oil and either sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide. All of these ingredients are biodegradable. When selecting a castile soap ensure that there are no palm oils used. The palm oil industry is responsible for a significant amount of habitat loss for orangutans and other endangered animal species.

Using castile soap is extremely easy in many instances. Washing floors or your car? Add a couple of tablespoons to a full bucket of water. To make an all-purpose cleaner mix ¼ cups of castile soap with 6 cups of water.

Homebiotic

USE IT FOR – maintaining microbial balance, preventing grime build-up and musty odors.

Homebiotic Environmental Probiotic spray is the perfect way to end any natural cleaning routine. Replenishing the probiotic population in your home and on your surfaces helps protect against an overgrowth of harmful microbes. Microbial balance is extremely important in any biome. Without beneficial bacteria, harmful microbes thrive causing issues such as toxic exposure and musty odors. Prevent them before they become an issue by using Homebiotic.

homebiotic spray on bathroom counter - Homebiotic - how to use homebiotic spray

Resources

 

https://sustainability.ucsf.edu/1.713#:~:text=The%20main%20issues%20associated%20with,the%20world’s%20almonds%20are%20grown.

https://www.greenmatters.com/p/how-does-vinegar-affect-the-environment&ved=2ahUKEwj6hN6TzuDvAhWKt54KHYyLDyMQFjALegQIHxAC&usg=AOvVaw3pg-lcwfDMtieEwez_jPal

https://davidsuzuki.org/queen-of-green/non-toxic-disinfecting/

https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/tn2873spec

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3 Ways To Keep Your Home & Gut Healthy

Keeping your home & gut healthy can involve some of the same steps! In the book “Never Home Alone,” biologist Rob Dunn says that we’ve done a fantastic job controlling the pathogens in our home environment (1). However, we’ve inadvertently gone too far and killed off all the beneficial species. Next, we built our homes in ways that favor problem species like fungi, new pathogens living in our faucets, or cockroaches living in our kitchens. He says there was always another way – that is to nurture the beneficial species in our homes (1).

Just like our gut biome, our home has a biome as well. Although the home biome is somewhat different than our guts, the same principles apply. Nurture the good species while removing whatever nurtures the bad. Experts say that we ought to focus efforts on the good microbes instead of killing off the harmful microbes. This is because whenever we kill off bad microbes, we usually kill the good guys too.

bright home filled with plants woman standing in window - Homebiotic - keep your home & gut healthy

To care for our gut biome, there are three main principles we need to follow: eat healthy, take probiotics, and take pathogen-killing medicine when absolutely required. It turns out that caring for the home biome follows very similar principles. Let’s look at each of these principles and how nurturing our home biome is similar to nurturing our gut biome.

coffee and healthy breakfast - homebiotic1. Eat a Healthy Diet

Keeping your home & gut healthy means keeping them nourished. Eating healthy for our gut biome means that we are feeding the good microbes with foods they like. Harmful microbes tend to like sugars, starches, and processed foods. In contrast, good bacteria and microbes like to eat fermented fibrous items like fruits and veggies. The idea is to enhance the growth of good bacteria and microbes, which will naturally balance out the gut microbiome (2).

The same can be said for our home biome. Good microbes consist of more soil-based bacteria and microbes, which we don’t often find in modern homes (3,4). Over the last half a century, we’ve become so averse to dirt that we have created a home environment favoring human microbes and pathogens. Research shows that when we began actively removing microbes and building airtight living spaces cut off from nature that we inadvertently favored a biome that lacks healthy microbes (1,3,4,5). At the same time, many illnesses developed, such as asthma, allergies, and autoimmune diseases. We’ve also made our immune systems more susceptible to other illnesses as well (1,6).

Over the last half a century, we’ve become so averse to dirt that we have created a home environment favoring human microbes and pathogens. Research shows that when we began actively removing microbes and building airtight living spaces… Click To Tweet

So the first step in nurturing our home biome is to feed the good guys in our homes. We do this by allowing our environment to find its own natural balance without using harsh cleansers, cleaning too frequently, and avoiding any and all dirt. The truth is, good microbes will eat and compete with harmful microbes if we let them be. Good microbes also have a symbiotic relationship with our human and pet microbes, and we must nurture that relationship as well (1,3,4,5).

alternative medicine - homebiotic2. Take Probiotics

Keeping your home & gut healthy sometimes requires calling in reinforcements. The other way we can nourish and promote good microbes in our homes is to actually add them to our environment the same way we do in our guts. It looks a little different between the gut and the home biome, but the principle is much the same.

Probiotics for our guts involve taking probiotic pills or ingesting foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and kefir (2). As science and human technology advances, we are discovering ways to add probiotics to our home environments (7).

A research study done in a healthcare setting shows that probiotic microorganisms may help decrease the growth of harmful pathogens. Probiotics and their biosurfactant products may keep hospital-based infections under control. Since this works in a hospital setting, it may indeed work well at home (7). This is excellent news amidst a pandemic where we need to clean our homes with harsh chemicals more often.

This is where Homebiotic Environmental spray comes in to create a population of beneficial microbes within your home. Include Homebiotic as a treatment at the end of your regular natural cleaning routine to create a barrier of probiotic protection on surfaces in your home, keeping them clean long after chores are done.

spilled bottle of pills - homebiotic3. Take Pathogen-Killing Medicine Only When Absolutely Required

Keeping your home & gut healthy can mean minimizing the intake of antibiotics. In the last few decades, we’ve discovered that antibiotics and other chemical irritants can kill off the beneficial microbes in our gut. Even things like stress, massive change, and unhealthy food choices can negatively affect our gut biome. Now that we know this, many health officials are advocating for the discretionary use of antibiotics. There’s also been an increase in education around foods, chemicals, and stress and how they negatively impact the gut biome (1).

It turns out that the same is true for the home biome. Research shows that over-cleaning, using harsh antibacterial cleansers has a devastating effect on beneficial microbe species in the home. As we discussed above, creating a sterile environment in the house has led to the development of many new illnesses (1,3-6). This is because we need beneficial bacteria in both our guts and our homes to stay healthy.

Research shows that over-cleaning, using harsh antibacterial cleansers has a devastating effect on beneficial microbe species in the home Click To Tweet

So in order to nurture our home biome, we need to decrease our use of harsh cleansers and reduce our cleaning frequency. This is not to say to leave our homes dirty and full of grime. Rather, we allow some microscopic dirt to remain and clean in ways that don’t destroy beneficial species. Instead of using antibacterial cleansers, we can choose essential oils, small amounts of vinegar and opt for surface wiping and removing excessive dust (1,4,5,6).

Conclusion

In conclusion, it seems that nurturing our home biome is quite similar to promoting health for our gut biomes. As we are biological beings that live symbiotically in a connected biosphere, it makes sense that our home and gut biomes would behave in similar ways.

There are three main points to keep your home & gut healthy:

  1. We need to feed the good microbes while starving out the bad ones.
  2. We add in good microbes when necessary to help repopulate and bring balance to the biome.
  3. Be careful with how we treat overgrowths of harmful microbes.

When we don’t need to kill any harmful pathogens, then it makes sense not to use harsh pathogen-killing chemicals if it’s unnecessary.

As we become more familiar with our gut biome, it makes sense to look at the entire biome we live in, including our home. The principles for nurturing any biome are relatively similar. The more we understand, the better we can be at fostering our overall health and wellbeing.

 

References

http://robdunnlab.com/science-portfolio/never-home-alone/

https://www.wholebodymicrobiome.com

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2015.1139

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1471490615000022

https://err.ersjournals.com/content/27/148/170137

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19201053/

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How Do You Use Homebiotic Spray?

We love our Homebiotic spray (we may be slightly biased). We also want you to love our Homebiotic spray. It is the perfect addition to any natural cleaning routine and it is extremely user-friendly. So how do you use Homebiotic spray?

Homebiotic is classed as an environmental probiotic – but what does that mean?

You’ve surely heard of probiotics for your gut – well, Homebiotic works similarly. Your gut microbiome is made up of millions of bacteria – recent research suggests that you have one bacteria organism for every cell in your body!1 Humankind and bacteria have been living in harmony for millennia – the bacteria need you for access to the food you consume, and in return, they make enzymes that are beneficial to your digestion2 as well as many other hidden benefits for your body. When you consume a probiotic, you’re adding to the colony in your gut, and aiding the friendly bacteria in protecting you from the more harmful species – as well as fungal growth.

You’ve surely heard of probiotics for your gut – well, Homebiotic works similarly. Your gut microbiome is made up of millions of bacteria – recent research suggests that you have one bacteria organism for every cell in your body! Click To Tweet

homebiotic spray by sink with blue cloth - Homebiotic - how do you use homebiotic spray

PROBIOTICS FOR YOUR HOME

Unless you’re permanently armed with cleansers, a sponge, and a manic gleam in your eye – your home is covered with bacteria. And that’s a good thing. Because bacteria, on the whole, are not the enemy – sure, there are species that are good to protect against when preparing food or handling basic bodily functions, but there’s absolutely no reason to fear the majority of bacteria in your home.

Homebiotic is:

  • An all-natural, carefully formulated blend of probiotic soil bacteria suspended in pure water – our proprietary blend of bacteria only includes harmless species, also found in digestive probiotics or fermented foods.
  • Free of artificial scents.
  • Free of preservatives, color, and enzymes.
  • Safe around humans and pets.

You need Homebiotic when there’s an imbalance in your home microbiome. Where you may have used disinfectants, all the bacteria are wiped out – but unfriendly bacteria returns first and takes over. This bad bacteria doesn’t compete with mold, so mold in your home is allowed free rein to grow.

You need Homebiotic when there’s an imbalance in your home microbiome. Where you may have used disinfectants, all the bacteria are wiped out – but unfriendly bacteria returns first and takes over. This bad bacteria doesn’t compete with… Click To Tweet

Homebiotic isn’t a fungicide or a cleaning spray – however, it’s perfect to use once you’ve identified and fixed the underlying cause and physically removed existing mold.

black mold on door frame - Homebiotic - how to use homebiotic sprayMOLD & HOMEBIOTIC

You may be excited to start spraying your bottle of Homebiotic around your home, but if you’ve already got a mold problem, there are steps you need to take first. If the mold issue is minor, you can remedy it with the steps below. If it’s more serious, we recommend contacting a local mold remediation service.

1. Repair The Underlying Reason For Mold

Mold thrives in a humid environment with enough delicious food around – the cellulose in wood and drywall is a favorite.4 You can reduce the humidity by fixing the source of moisture. If there’s a leaky pipe it needs to be dealt with before you begin cleaning – same goes for leaky windows or condensation issues.

2. Clean Up The Mold

At Homebiotic we favor the use of hydrogen peroxide or borax to clean up the mold. We recommend avoiding the use of bleach when tackling mold, as it can’t remove mold from porous surfaces such as wood, and can actually cause mold to become more harmful. Bleach will also kill your home microbiome indiscriminately – including the helpful bacteria that actively help protect against mold.

For hard surfaces:

  • Wear gloves, a face mask, and goggles when using hydrogen peroxide to remove mold. A concentration of 3%-7% works just fine, and there isn’t usually a reason to use anything stronger.
  • Spot test first, as hydrogen peroxide can cause discoloration on some materials.
  • Spray hydrogen peroxide on the moldy area.
  • Leave the hydrogen peroxide to work for five minutes or so (you’ll know when it’s time because it stops foaming).
  • Use a paper towel or other disposable cloth to wipe the area and remove the remainder of the mold.
    Allow to dry.
  • Repeat as many times as necessary.

For soft materials:

  • Wear gloves, a face mask, and goggles when using borax to remove mold.
  • Dissolve ½ cup borax in 1-gallon hot water.
  • Soak the material for two to four hours.
  • Wash material as normal
  • Repeat if odor or mold spots remains.

3. Apply Homebiotic

After dealing with a mold issue, we recommend spraying Homebiotic on the affected areas of your home once a day for a week, to help the friendly bacteria colony to reestablish and take charge. After this period, a light mist in each area once per week is usually all that’s needed. Most Homebiotic users apply it as the last step of their regular cleaning routine.

Homebiotic can be sprayed in the following areas to prevent mold:

  • Around windows and doors
  • Under sinks
  • Basement
  • Car or other vehicles – even boats
  • Carpets near external doors
  • Cabinets
  • Mattresses
  • Dog or cat beds
  • Camping equipment
  • Soil of houseplants
  • Air conditioner – spray directly on the coils and drip pan, and into the ducts
  • Shower
  • Washing machine

If you’re spraying areas in contact with water – like the shower and the washing machine – be aware you have to reapply Homebiotic after every use, as Homebiotic is water-soluble and may be washed away.

Store Homebiotic at room temperature with other cleaning products, out of direct sunlight. Be mindful of the use-by date – as Homebiotic is a living probiotic solution, it can become less effective after that point.

homebiotic spray on bathroom counter - Homebiotic - how to use homebiotic spray

BUILD A HEALTHY HOME DEFENSE WITH HOMEBIOTIC

Homebiotic is a safe and reliable way to keep the sources of musty odors, black staining, and grime at bay – instead of splashing around chemical-heavy disinfectants. The spray can be used in a wide variety of places to keep your home healthy. Homebiotic is a natural choice to balance your house’s microbiome without compromising your health.


REFERENCES

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4991899/
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5847071/
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18086226
4. https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/2901/2901-7019/2901-7019.html

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Wetlands: The Secret To Climate Change

Climate change is an important topic of discussion for the past couple of decades. There has been lots of talk about ways to prevent climate change from progressing, from turning off appliances or biking to work, but what are other factors that significantly affect the amount of carbon in the earths atmosphere? Well, world wetlands are the secret to climate change. More specifically by trapping something called blue carbon. But what are wetlands & why do we need them?

horse grazing in wetlands - Homebiotic

WHAT DEFINES A WETLAND?

Wetlands are commonly referred to as marshes or swamps, and can be found all over the world. Their main characteristic is that their habitat and composure is ever changing depending on water levels. Wetlands are made by floods or some are permanent fixtures of the landscape.

Wetlands are often also referred to as marshes or swamps and can be found all over the world. Their main characteristic is that their habitat and composure is ever changing depending on water levels. Some wetlands are permanent while… Click To Tweet

There are wetlands all over the world. Some of the most well known wetlands are The Pantanal (runs through Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay), The Queen Maude Gulf (located in Canada) and Grands Affluents (in Chad). All of these wetlands have their own irreplaceable biodiverse populations. For example, The Grands Affluents is home to endangered species of hippopotamus, elephant and gorilla.

Some wetlands are man made! They are created in areas that need wastewater management and in urban areas where water scarcity is an ongoing issue. They are also often created in an effort to restore land areas lost to mining or development that have since suffered from wetland loss.

heron fishing in swamp - HomebioticWHY ARE WETLANDS IMPORTANT?

They are busy! Wetlands perform a number of important functions. Not only do they support a large number of animal and plant species (they are regarded as the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems), they also aid in shoreline stabilization, water filtration and purification, storage of water supplies and carbon processing. They also are able to store 10x the amount of carbon as an equivalent sized land forest.

Have you heard of blue carbon?

Marine ecosystems capture carbon. This carbon is blue carbon. Carbon is processed through photosynthesis and turned into plant material. Through this process carbon then becomes plant material aiding in water filtration and supporting this diverse ecosystem. Wetlands store 44.6 million tonnes of carbon material each year.

Greenhouse gases create a ‘green house’ like effect on the world. According to NASA:

The greenhouse effect is the way in which heat is trapped close to the surface of the Earth by “greenhouse gases.” These heat-trapping gases can be thought of as a blanket wrapped around the Earth, which keeps it toastier than it would be without them. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxides.

This heat trapping effect is also why we know climate change as global warming. Even the slight warming of the earth can have catastrophic effects of all of it’s inhabitants and our necessary resources. This is why it’s incredibly important to minimize and balance out our carbon producing activities.

wetlands - homebioticHOW CAN WE HELP OUR WORLD WETLANDS?

The loss of wetlands, not surprisingly, comes at the hands of humans. Wetlands are often contaminated by toxins and chemicals flowing through the water within them, hindering their ability to provide proper water purification and safe ecosystems for their diverse organism population.

Developers fill in wetlands for agriculture and livestock fields, mining, urban housing or industrial factory developments.

So what do we see when we destroy wetlands? Typically we see water scarcity, endangered species, shoreline instability and breeding/nesting areas disturbed. As bleak as this all sounds, we have great news: there are things that you can do to help preserve our world wetlands!

DO NOT USE HARSH CHEMICAL CLEANERS – chose natural cleaners to stop the flow of detrimental chemicals that get washed into our waterways each day. This can significantly reduce the amount of work our wetlands have to do. This will also help protect any species in our wetlands from being harmed by these chemicals. Using natural cleaning product alternatives, such as hydrogen peroxide and vinegar, then follow with an environmental probiotic, like Homebiotic, to rebalance and protect your home.

SOURCE SUSTAINABLE AQUACULTURE & AGRICULTURE PRODUCTS – do a bit of research when shopping to make sure you’re not purchasing from a producer that has created their product at the expense of our wetlands. Developers destroy wetlands to create aquaculture infrastructure like shrimp farms. So make sure you ask questions about where your food comes from and look for sustainable labeling.

HELP CONSERVE WETLANDS IN YOUR COMMUNITY – keep your eyes and ears out for developments in your community that may negatively impact your local wetlands. Contact local politicians and advocate for these extremely important ecosystems to prevent them from becoming developments. Cities use the ‘protected’ designation for important ecosystems to prevent urban development.

sand piper in swamp - Homebiotic

Nature preservation as a whole is of the utmost important not only for the continuation of many different species of flora and fauna, but also to keep the earth in good health. World wetlands are the secret to climate change. They filter our water, keep our shorelines intact, reduce the carbon in the atmosphere & are a necessity to many organisms. We love world wetlands!


RESOURCES

https://www.conservation.org/blog/5-things-you-should-know-about-wetlands?gclid=Cj0KCQiA0rSABhDlARIsAJtjfCfmGOxgFJtjEhlwB_JG1euU9TA1ufXi850za1At3qkG0_Q5tKP2EsYaAp9mEALw_wcB

https://www.conservation.org/blog/what-on-earth-is-blue-carbon

https://www.thebluecarboninitiative.org/

https://ontarionature.org/programs/nature-reserves/

https://smartwatermagazine.com/blogs/agueda-garcia-de-durango/10-largest-wetlands-world

https://climate.nasa.gov/faq/19/what-is-the-greenhouse-effect/

https://scied.ucar.edu/learning-zone/how-climate-works/greenhouse-effect

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Are We Over-Cleaning Our Skin?

In these current times, the topic of under and over-cleaning our skin and home environment is discussed more than ever. There have always been debates about how often we should clean and which soaps or cleansers to choose. But with the pandemic, everyone is more concerned and possibly more confused as well.

Undoubtedly, in the past several months, there’s been a steady stream of antibacterial and alcohol-based soaps being marketed to the general public. And while these have great success in killing and washing viruses from our hands, we need to consider how often and where to use them.

Should we be using antibacterial soaps for whole body cleansing? How often should we shower versus washing our hands? What’s the best way to avoid skin allergies, acne, or dry skin when choosing a cleansing routine? How clean is too clean? This article will address all of these questions and more.

Washing Our Hands in The Time of Coronavirus

We know that handwashing is the best prevention for the coronavirus. However, before the pandemic, many people weren’t educated about proper handwashing to prevent disease spread.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have always recommended regular handwashing for infection prevention. They provide researched education about how and when to wash our hands. The recommendations back in 2001 lightly supported the use of antibacterial soap. They cautioned that it may increase the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and negatively alter the skin flora (1,2).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have always recommended regular handwashing for infection prevention. They provide researched education about how and when to wash our hands. The recommendations back in 2001 lightly… Click To Tweet

In 2020, the CDC now supports the use of soap and water as the gold standard for infection prevention and control. A search of CDC handwashing guidelines shows that they recommend only alcohol-based hand washing when soap and water aren’t possible (1,2).

As for antimicrobial soaps, the CDC no longer discusses using them at all. The reason is simple, antimicrobial soaps may do more harm than good.

What’s The Deal With Antimicrobial Soaps?

In recent years, several studies show that antimicrobial soaps may cause cracks and irritation to the skin. This creates more susceptibility to bacterial colonization. And as we know, the use of antimicrobial soaps may have a hand in creating superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics (2,3,4).

But unfortunately, antimicrobial soaps mess with our skin microbiome. Each area of the body has its own microbial balance, which maintains our health and prevents infection and disease. This balance can be disturbed by many factors which we are learning more about in modern times (3,5).

For example, in the book “The Whole Body Microbiome,” Dr. Brett Finlay and contributing scientists discuss microbiome balance issues in all areas of the body. With regard to the skin, they talk about how a simple problem like acne could be related to microbial imbalance on the surface of the skin (5).

For instance, a bacteria called Cutibacterium Acnes actually helps break down our oily skin secretions. This process creates an acidic environment that prevents the growth of Staphylococcus Aureus known for causing acne and other infections (5).

Who would have thought that one bacteria can prevent another worse bacteria from growing? But this is the case in almost all of our body microbiomes. Bacteria often compete and edge each other out, which keeps infections low and improves our well being. They also create enzymes and other by-products that contribute to the healthy function of our body (5,6,7).

For all these reasons, we don’t want to use antimicrobial soaps that kill off all the beneficial bacteria that are actually helping us.

Why Should We Avoid Over-Cleaning Our Skin?

In the Whole Body Microbiome, the authors discuss research and studies showing one glaring truth. When it comes to the skin, less clean is better. Areas of the body such as hands, feet, genitals, and armpits should be washed daily with regular soap and water. But as for other areas like the face and rest of the body, it’s not necessary to scrub them daily (5).

Over-cleaning and using overly hot water can also damage our skin microbiome and cause more problems for our health. Many people don’t know that our skin and body microbiome plays a role in developing illnesses like asthma, eczema, autoimmune disease, and allergic reactions (5,7).

For instance, some studies show that eczema is related to higher levels of Staphylococcus Aureus. Without a balanced skin microbiome, these harmful bacteria are allowed to grow, causing the classic inflammatory skin lesions found in eczema (5,7).

Other studies show that exposure to beneficial skin microbes helps develop our immune system, thus preventing skin and systemic illnesses from developing later in life (5,6,8),.

Lastly, over-cleaning may cause cracks and open sores, which can increase infection risk. One study shows that damaged skin from over-cleaning is more likely to be colonized with several harmful microbes. Not only does this increase skin inflammation, but it may also perpetuate the spread of contagious infections (3,5).

So while it may be hard not to over-clean our hands during the pandemic, we can find a better balance for the rest of our body. Daily washing of feet, groin, hands, and armpits is good enough. But other parts of the body really don’t need to be over-cleaned.

For areas like the face, arms, legs, and hair, it seems the best skincare routine is to wash less frequently with plain soap and lukewarm water. This routine will also help prevent things like acne, wrinkles, dry skin, and other infections. Lastly, using a mild natural moisturizer can keep the skin supple without destroying the microbiome (1,2,5).

Conclusion

There’s never been a better time for more discussion and education around cleaning. Until now, most of us weren’t always sure how often we should wash our hands and clean our skin. With the push towards more frequent handwashing and the use of alcohol and antimicrobial soaps, it’s essential to learn what works and what doesn’t.

Frequent handwashing is critical in these trying times. And yes, we need to wash our dirtiest parts like feet, groin, and armpits. But surprisingly, we don’t need to over-clean other areas of our skin. And we should definitely stop the use of antimicrobial soaps. Pure soap and water is the best way to clean our hands and bodies.

Moreover, people may not understand how important our skin microbiome is for our health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, by over-cleaning and using hot water and antimicrobial soaps, we may be damaging our skin microbiome’s delicate balance. This has confirmed repercussions in the development of infections, allergies, and autoimmune diseases.

We also recommend learning about over-cleaning your home.


References

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/7/2/70-0225_article

https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/index.html

https://www.ajicjournal.org/article/S0196-6553(98)70025-2/fulltext

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Mold Growth Can Be Caused by Over-Cleaning: Here’s Why.

Mold growth can be caused by a variety of things, including over-cleaning. A recent University of Oklahoma study reveals that instead of the intended effect, over-cleaning a home actually leads to increased mold growth due to a lack of natural competition. For many years, those who live in urban homes have believed that keeping our homes squeaky clean will protect us from harmful pathogens such as bacteria and fungus.

A recent University of Oklahoma study reveals that instead of the intended effect, over-cleaning a home actually leads to increased mold growth due to a lack of natural competition. For many years, those who live in urban homes have… Click To Tweet

Indeed, we’ve developed chemicals that kill off harmful bacteria such as salmonella, e-coli, and staphylococcus aureus. But we know now that these chemicals are causing resistant bacteria as well as killing off good bacteria too. However, in the past decade, more discussion has taken place around microbial resistance and destruction of the helpful human and environmental biomes due to our cleaning practices.

Some of us are unsure about how seriously we should take this issue. With the rise of dangerous and resistant bacteria, many of us are feeling confused. Do we want to decrease our cleaning frequency? Should we switch to other products that create microbial balance rather than killing them off?

The findings from a new study by Laura-Isobel McCall, a biochemist from the University of Oklahoma, may help us make some decisions 1. These study results not only back up existing knowledge around the role bacteria and fungus in the home biome, but they give us some new information to consider.

Study Results: Over-cleaning Causes Increased Mold Growth

The study compared fungal diversity between urban and rural settings in the Amazonia region of Peru and Brazil. Fungal diversity refers to the number of different species of fungus found in a specific area. The urban settings studied were apartments and homes in city environments, whereas the rural settings were in remote villages where people lived amongst nature. The study also looked at the fungal diversity for both the feet and guts of inhabitants in both locations.

The results showed an increase of fungus in urban settings compared to rural ones. Urban environments have much higher quantities of harmful fungal microbes, such as aspergillus and candida. Whereas, they have much lower amounts of helpful fungal microbes.

The results showed an increase of fungus in urban settings compared to rural ones. Urban environments have much higher quantities of harmful fungal microbes... Click To Tweet

Conversely, helpful bacteria are found in much lower numbers in urban homes compared to rural settings. And while there are more harmful bacteria found in rural settings, they live in better balance and harmony with other diverse bacteria and fungus. The researchers also found that the human feet and guts of those who lived in these urban settings showed the same distribution of harmful versus helpful fungal quantities.

These results also show that the environmental microbiome has a significant influence on the microbiome of our bodies.

While we strive to decrease harmful pathogens in our home environments, we may be doing more harm than good by wiping out the balance between the microbes. And this appears to have a direct effect on our physical health and well-being. The researchers also isolated several chemical compounds in high diversity in urban homes. So not only do our homes contain more fungal diversity and less helpful bacteria, but they also have more harmful chemicals than ever before 1.

Why Do Fungal Microbes (Mold) Thrive in Urban Environments?

The researchers noted several reasons why fungus grows more abundant in urban environments, to begin with. Our homes are more closed off, which increases internal temperature and limits natural light and air. These are all issues known to worsen fungal growth. Also, urban homes contain more CO2 and more surfaces that aid the growth of fungal microbes 1,2.

However, the study also looked at cleaning compounds which are used in higher amounts in urban settings. The study results showed that these fungal organisms are likely resistant to the cleaning products. Also, once bacteria were killed off, fungal microbes are allowed to grow in more significant numbers 1.

What we do know is that fungal microbes have stronger cell walls than bacteria, so they are more apt to become resistant. Also, bacteria and fungal microbes are known to live in balance (or competition, depending on how you look at it!) together, keeping each population in check 3.

Some bacteria have special enzymes, such as chitinase, that can break through the sturdy cell walls of fungus, lowering their numbers and creating a balance between bacteria and fungus 3. But what happens when those bacteria aren’t present in the local environment anymore?

Does Killing Bacteria Create More Opportunities for Fungal Growth?

Indeed, the study results obtained by Dr. McCall shows that once we kill off all the bacteria, it provides more opportunities for fungal microbes to grow. And since urban homes already have optimal conditions, this helps explain why fungal organisms are found in greater diversity there 1,2.

These results leave us with some challenges for sure, but they’re also promising and give us more food for thought as we work to create a more balanced microbiome in our homes. In turn, this will also help improve the microbiome in our bodies.

Interestingly, while we’ve managed to largely eliminate the threat of harmful bacteria that cause various infections and gastrointestinal illness, fungal-related diseases such as allergies, asthma, chronic fatigue, and autoimmune issues are on the rise. So, it appears we may have swapped one group of illnesses for another 4,5,6.

...once we kill off all the bacteria, it provides more opportunities for fungal microbes to grow. And since urban homes already have optimal conditions, this helps explain why fungal organisms are found in greater diversity there. Click To Tweet

Reconsidering How We Clean

For those of us in urban settings, these new facts present some challenges and opportunities. Most importantly, we need to consider our cleaning practices. Because even though there’s not much that can be easily done to change the structure of our homes, we can do something about our cleaning practices.

  1. DECREASING THE USE OF CHEMICAL CLEANERS: an important place to start. We can ease up on how often we clean and choose less chemical-based cleaners. Natural cleaners like vinegar and essential oils would make better choices. But we also need to reconsider our ideas and biases around living with microbes in our homes. We now understand that disrupting the balance of microbes has adverse effects on overall microbial diversity in our homes 1,6. The next issue is how we can create new practices that help us have more balance and harmony with microbes. By increasing beneficial bacteria in our homes, we not only decrease harmful bacteria, but we also keep fungal microbes to a minimum 2,6,7.
  2. REINTRODUCE BENEFICIAL BACTERIA BACK INTO YOUR HOME: That’s the easy part! Homebiotic naturally and efficiently re-introduces helpful bacteria back in our homes in a convenient spray. It is applied after cleaning any surface to restore a healthy bacterial layer. Just as we improve our gut health through oral probiotics, Homebiotic is a probiotic for our home.

Homebiotic spray - the probiotic for your home