A home-made bio enzyme cleaner is a non-toxic, eco-friendly and affordable alternative to chemical cleaning products, and can be used in a bunch of different ways around the house. Here’s how you can make your own.
There’s a lot of reasons why switching to bio enzyme cleaners for your home makes sense. They’re free from toxic chemicals, so they’re safer for you, your family and your pets. They’re full of good microbes and natural cleaning substances that do a great job of cleaning different surfaces. Because they’re all natural, they’re perfectly safe for the environment, unlike regular chemical cleaners that are extremely toxic. And best of all, you can make them yourself from things you have at home, or are pretty easy to get.
Please use the information in this post at your own discretion. Obviously, I can’t guarantee that the bio enzyme cleanser you make at home will turn out as you expect it to, nor that it will be as safe or as effective as you want.
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Bio enzyme cleaner? What’s that?!
A bio enzyme cleaner (or bio enzymatic cleaner) is a cleaning liquid that has natural proteins in it called enzymes. Enzymes speed up chemical reactions, and are great at breaking down proteins, fats, starches and dirt in general. The enzymes in these cleaners are produced by harmless microbes like bacillus bacteria and yeast, a bit like those in sourdough bread. DIY home-made bio enzyme cleaners are made by slow fermentation (usually using vegetable and fruit waste from the kitchen) and can be used in lots of different ways.
So what do home-made bio enzyme cleaners contain?
Because they’re made by slow fermentation, home-made bio enzyme cleaners have other things in them besides enzymes. While fermenting the fruit and veggies, the bacteria and yeast also make some vinegar and alcohol, which are pretty great cleaning substances in their own right, and make your DIY cleaner even more powerful!
So when your DIY bio enzyme cleaner is ready, it’ll contain a culture of harmless bacteria and yeast, bio enzymes that these microbes have produced, and a dash of vinegar and alcohol. It’ll also have some leftover natural essential oils and a little pulp from whatever you’ve fermented, and some salts and minerals.
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How to use your home-made bio enzyme cleaner
There are plenty of ways you can use your bio enzyme cleaner at home. Here are some of the more popular uses.
As an all-purpose cleaner
Your bio enzymatic cleaner is great for cleaning floors, kitchen counters, toilets and surfaces in general. Not only do the enzymes and vinegar loosen the dirt from the surface, the alcohol acts as a natural disinfectant. Even better, the microbes actively work against odour molecules, and even penetrate microscopic cracks to get at hard-to-reach dirt.
While you can use your bio enzyme cleaner directly for some things, you’ll need to dilute it for others. Here are some broad numbers to get you started, but don’t be afraid to experiment.
- Toilet cleaner: Use undiluted cleaner to wet the surface of the toilet, and allow to rest for a few hours (or even overnight) before scrubbing.
- Floor cleaner: Mix half a cup of cleaner in a bucket of water and swab (note that your bio enzyme cleaner might stain or discolour soft stone surfaces like marble).
- Cleaning kitchen counters: Mix a tablespoon of cleaner in a cup of water, and use it to wipe your kitchen counter. If you’ve got stubborn stains, use a little undiluted cleaner on them.
- Removing grout and limescale: Use undiluted cleaner to wet the grout or limescale, and let it rest for an hour or two before scrubbing. For metal surfaces, though, it’s probably safer to wipe the cleaner off after a few minutes.
- Washing dishes: Dilute a cup of bio enzyme cleaner with two cups of water, and use it to clean your dirty dishes. For stubborn grease, leave the dishes to soak or use the cleaner undiluted. Quickly rinse metal utensils, though.
- Washing fruits and vegetables: Mix a tablespoon of cleaner in a bowl of water, and wash your fruits and vegetables in it. Rinse off any that you’re planning to eat raw.
- Unclogging drains: Pour a cup of undiluted cleaner into the drain and leave it overnight. The bacteria and enzymes should loosen up the blockage enough for a plunger to do the trick, later.
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Other things you can use your bio enzyme cleaner for
Besides being a versatile cleaner, your biological enzyme cleaning liquid can do a few other useful things, too! Here are some other uses people have found.
- Personal hygiene: You could use diluted cleaner as a body wash or shampoo. Make sure you test a bit on a patch of skin beforehand. Because, you know, allergies.
- Pet hygiene: Like above, you could also use diluted cleaner to bathe your pets, too. Again, make sure you test a bit of it first!
- Fabric softener: You could soak clothes in diluted cleaner and then rinse them off to keep them soft and fresh.
- Plant fertilizer: You could use diluted bio enzyme cleaner as plant fertilizer. You might need to dilute it quite a bit though, because of the vinegar content.
- Insect repellent: You could spray diluted cleaner in corners of your house and on your plants to keep pests away. It won’t kill them though.
How to make your own bio enzyme cleaner
Like I mentioned earlier, DIY bio enzyme cleaners are made using slow fermentation of vegetable or fruit waste. So to make your own, you’ll need five things: veggie or fruit off-cuts; jaggery (unrefined sugar) or molasses; water; a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid; and lots of patience.
Step 1: Measure out your ingredients
- Measure out your jaggery/molasses, veggie/fruit waste and water in a ratio of roughly 1:3:10 (one part jaggery/molasses to three parts off-cuts to 10 parts water).
- For example, if you have 300 gm of orange peel, you’ll need 100 gm of jaggery/molasses and 1 litre of water (tap water works fine).
Step 2: Mix them together
- Once you’ve got your ingredients measured out, dissolve the jaggery/molasses in the water and add in the fruit peel. The water needs to be at room temperature when you add the peel.
- Pour the whole thing into the plastic container and close the lid (this is to keep oxygen and insects out). Use a container that’s big enough so that it’s only half full.
- Don’t use a glass container (the pressure of the gas during fermentation might break it) or a metal one (the vinegar might corrode it).
Step 3: Leave the whole thing to ferment
- Now comes the hard part: leave the mixture in a quiet, dark corner for three months (!).
- During this time, the natural yeast and bacillus bacteria will digest the sugar and the fruit, releasing enzymes, vinegar and alcohol, and killing off any other microbes.
- The fermentation will create carbon dioxide gas. So for the first week or so, you’ll need to open the lid slightly each day to release the pressure. It’s important that no oxygen gets in, so don’t open the lid completely.
Step 4: Strain, bottle and use!
- Once it’s been three months–or once the peels have settled on the bottom of the container–strain the liquid through a coarse cloth. Your DIY home-made bio enzyme cleaner is now ready to use!
- You can store your cleaner in plastic or glass containers indefinitely, and use them whenever you need.
- Keep some of the pulp and mix it in with your next batch; it’ll speed up the fermentation and reduce your waiting time to a month.
Tips for making your DIY home-made bio enzyme cleaner
- Because it’s fermented, your liquid cleaner will smell slightly funky, like overripe fruit (or soggy veggies, if that’s what your using). Once it’s diluted, though, it should smell much better.
- If you still don’t like the smell, I’ve heard that mixing in a few fresh rose petals helps.
- The smell also depends a lot on what fruit or vegetable you’re using. For example, it’ll smell much better if you use citrus peels (orange peels are best) than if you use onion peels!
- Try not to use banana peels; they turn really mushy and make straining your cleaner almost impossible.
- The colour of your cleaner depends on the off-cuts you use, and on the colour of your jaggery/molasses. Don’t worry if your liquid is a different colour from the pictures you’ve seen.
- During fermentation, you might see a whitish layer forming on your liquid. That’s a layer of yeast, and is perfectly fine.
- Patches of black mould aren’t a good sign, though. Try and scoop them out and close the container again to let the liquid keep fermenting. If the mould keeps coming back, you might need to start all over again.
- If you don’t feel like opening the lid every so often to release the carbon dioxide, try this:
- Use a container with a broad mouth, cover the mouth with a rubber mat or something similar, and put something moderately heavy on top to make a tight seal.
- When the pressure inside builds up enough, the mat will lift a tiny bit and allow the gas to escape; once the pressure inside drops, the mat should settle back into place, sealing the container again.
- Remember to make sure everything’s steady and firmly balanced; you don’t want the weight on top to fall over because of the pressure.
- You could, in theory, substitute jaggery/molasses with refined sugar. But not only is that more expensive, refined sugar doesn’t have the kind of nutrients that unrefined sugar does, so the fermentation might take a lot longer.
- I’ve heard that adding a teaspoon of commercial yeast reduces the fermentation time to one month, but I haven’t tried it myself.
- Please remember that, like all cleaners, your bio enzyme cleaner is only safe if used in small quantities on external surfaces. It is not safe to drink. Please store it out of reach of pets and children. Avoid contact with eyes.