Are you having trouble keeping your kefir or kombucha cultures alive ever since the COVID-19 pandemic? Here’s why.
The COVID-19 pandemic has left everyone much more health-conscious. Even when masks are no longer a major part of our daily lives, and many social-distancing restrictions are being lifted, it isn’t uncommon to see someone wiping their shopping carts with anti-bacterial wet towels at the entrance of grocery stores. Plus, many public buildings now have anti-bacterial gel dispensers at their entrances.
Anti-bacterial and anti-viral labels are multiplying inside of grocery stores, too. Soaps, laundry detergents, and cleaners of all kinds are going out of their way to talk about how powerful their products are against germs and viruses, including COVID-19. And those labels do the trick. Anti-COVID marketing grabs buyers at a deep, emotional level because we’re all still reeling a bit from the pandemic and it’s heart-breaking effects on our lives and families.
At the same time, plenty of people have reacted to the pandemic by turning to natural and holistic medicine to promote better health and (hopefully) increase their body's ability to fight off any disease that might come their way. While probiotics and gut health aren't a cure for COVID or any other disease, we strongly believe having a healthy gut biome is one of many steps we all should take to prepare ourselves for future health crises or pandemics, not to mention more common issues, like the yearly flu.
However, these two reactions (the anti-bacterial/anti-viral and the natural/probiotic) can clash in an unfortunate way, essentially turning your hands, dishes, and kitchen into a hostile environment for your probiotic cultures.
Many probiotic growers have reported having trouble with their cultures recently, especially since the pandemic hit in 2020. We've gotten numerous messages that say something similar to these comments:
- My water kefir grew great when I first got it, but after a few baches, it just died on me!
- My kombucha started fine but now it’s not growing at all. I think it’s dying!
- My milk kefir is disappearing on me after a few batches. What’s wrong with it?
If you’re having similar issues, or if you’ve recently ordered probiotics and don’t want to hit trouble after a batch or two, what can you do?
Well, it turns out many people are doing one thing that is very likely killing their probiotic cultures over time. What is that one thing? And how can you avoid it?
Stop Using Antibacterial Products, Including Bleach
As we said at the start of this article, because of the pandemic, people are using disinfectants and antibacterial soap regularly. Sales in any product—from dish and laundry soap to shampoo and even pet products—with the words antibacterial, antiviral, antimicrobial, or disinfecting have skyrocketed in the last year.
And this is understandable. But what effect do all these antibacterial or bleach-containing products have on your probiotic cultures?
To put it simply, these products will easily kill them!
Both dairy and non-dairy kefir are cultures of bacteria and yeast. The same is true of kombucha. In fact, the word for a kombucha culture, SCOBY, stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast!
These cultures require a delicate balance of countless strains of bacteria and yeast, living in a harmonious (or symbiotic) relationship. When you use anything containing bleach (or anything antibacterial) around these cultures, you’re putting that harmonious culture at serious risk.
So, if you want to keep your probiotic cultures alive, you have to keep those dangerous products far away!
What We Do
Here at Poseymom Probiotic Farms, we take the health of our cultures very seriously. Any substance that could harm our probiotics must be kept far away from our facility. That includes anti-bacterial hand soap, laundry soap, dish soap, or kitchen cleaner. We also avoid using bleach in all of those situations.
Instead, we have long used hot, soapy water and the plainest, low-chemical soaps and detergents we can find because these work just as well at protecting our family and they won't harm our probiotics. That's a win-win!
But we know this is a hard pill to swallow.
Avoiding bleach or anti-bacterial products may seen like heresy to some people, especially in our post-COVID world. "Germs are dangerous," you may be thinking. "We need powerful cleaners to protect ourselves."
But that isn't completely true. It turns out that just plain soap works just as well against the very virus that practically brought the world to it's knees over the last two years. Here's a video from VOX about why soap works so well.
So, bleach-free and anti-bacterial-free soaps and cleaners are definitely the way to go. When it comes to doing the following:
- Washing your hands (especially when you are about to handle your probiotic cultures)
- Washing dishes (especially anything that you might use with your cultures, such as mason jars, strainers, or wooden spoons)
- Cleaning kitchen surfaces
- Washing kitchen cloths and rags
A Bleach-Free, Chemical-Free Alternative
Here at Poseymom Probiotic Farms, we're constantly working to improve our environment to make it safe for our family and for our probiotics. That means that we avoid as many harsh chemicals as possible. In fact, any time we can get a clean result without using any chemicals at all, we're overjoyed at the prospect.
Recently, we've found a series of products that are anti-bacterial and have powerful disinfecting abilities without the use of any chemicals whatsoever. We tested these products extensively, and we ended up using them in our home and with our probiotics because they are easy, effective, and probiotic-safe.
What products are we talking about? Norwex.
Norwex is a Norwegian company that creates microfiber cloths that are lined with silver, allowing them to naturally kill bacteria without the need for any kind of chemicals or soaps. Visit the Norwex site HERE to read about their story and mission.
We became so impressed with Norwex and their products that we've decided to partner with them, becoming an independent sales consultant with the company. We only made the leap to support Norwex after having used their products extensively, because we'd never support something we didn't firmly believe in ourselves.
Save Your Cultures!
In conclusion, we understand your desire to protect yourself and your family from COVID and other infectious diseases. And harsher cleaners do still have their place. But keep in mind that such powerful chemicals can also have a harsh effect on your probiotic cultures.
The last thing you want is to start growing your kefir or kombucha, just get it thriving, only to watch it die after a few batches because of the soaps you use to wash your hands or dishes.
Instead, if you protect your culture from those dangerous chemicals and soaps, your culture will flourish. And, as a reward to you, it will continue to help your gut biome flourish, promoting better overall health, energy, and immunity to whatever new threat may come your way!