Cleaning lady with cleaner in hand

Action: Learn about bio-enzyme cleaners and their uses

What are bio-enzymes?

Bio-enzymes are derived from living organisms – plants, animals or microorganisms. Enzymes are protein molecules which act as catalysts in biological reactions, and are widely used in many industries including food processing, pharmaceuticals, textiles, agriculture, and waste management. They are environmentally friendly and can help to reduce the use of harsh chemicals.

Close up of gloved hands cleaning sink

They are natural cleaners, and we can even make our own.

Benefits of bio-enzymes

Bio-enzyme cleaners:

  • can effectively remove stains and odours.
  • can be used on many surfaces such as floor tiles, bathroom tiles, windows, drains, appliances, kitchen surfaces and so on
  • can be used as laundry detergents
  • are environmentally friendly – they are derived from natural resources and are bio degradable
  • do not harm water supplies and marine life.

Different types of bio-enzymes can be made for specific uses, for example soap nut bio-enzyme can be used for laundry and washing up, citrus bio-enzyme mixed with citronella essential oil can be used as a mosquito repellent, and citrus bio-enzyme can be used as floor cleaner and bathroom tile cleaner.

Bio-enzymes work by breaking down organic compounds into simpler forms, eliminating the need for strong chemicals to dissolve or remove stains and drastically reducing chemical exposure. This is much safer of course – bio-enzyme cleaners will not damage skin or cause respiratory issues.

Bio-enzyme cleaners can be made at home

Making your own bio-enzyme cleaners requires patience but is not difficult. There are numerous ‘recipes’ online, here is an example: Remember to release gases every day in the first month, because bacteria and yeast will be breaking down and a lot of gas will be produced. Other tips include:

  • Use fresh or dried fruits to make your bio-enzyme cleaner, rotten fruit will not work.
  • Do not expose to sunlight
  • Do not refrigerate
  • It does not have expiry date
  • Bio-enzymes should be mixed in water, not used directly. Mix 150 ml in a half-bucket of water or 50 ml in a mug of water.
  • Mushy and pulpy bio-enzyme can however be used directly to remove really tough stains
  • Always do a patch test to check for discolouring first
  • Be careful about using bio-enzyme on marble, it can stain!

By making your own cleaners you will be saving money, reducing chemical use and reducing the use of plastic packaging.

And finally, here’s some suggested uses:

  • To remove odor, stains, and scaling run an empty washing machine with clear bio-enzyme
  • To clean a drain, pour undiluted bio-enzyme in the drain and later pour hot water. For stubborn blockages and stains add baking soda
  • Soap nuts bio-enzyme is good for preserving color in naturally dyed clothes. It can be used as a laundry detergent, washing liquid, handwash and (mixed with amla and reetha) even hair wash
  • Soap nuts diluted in water can be used to spray on pets’ fur (maybe add citronella or eucalyptus oil too)
  • Citrus bio-enzyme (lemons, oranges, limes) can be used as floor cleaner, toilet cleaner, bathroom cleaner, mirror glass cleaner and in your car
  • Neem and lemon grass bio-enzyme together keep drains clean and house bugs and mosquito away
  • Bio-enzyme can, in some circumstances, be used instead of chlorine in water tanks and so on, but take advice before doing this from a water hygiene expert

This article was contributed by Aparajita Deshpande ( If you would like to contribute please contact us by email using the link at the top of this page. Also, why not sign up to our fortnightly bulletin, using the simple form below?

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