Effective Microorganisms or How to Make your Own Non Toxic Cleaning Products

Effective Microorganisms or How to Make your Own Non Toxic Cleaning Products

We posted about Effective Microorganisms last year and often get questions about how to use them so today we are doing a more in depth step by step process.

If you are interested in chemical free cleaning products that also cover your surfaces (and toilets and laundry etc.) with beneficial probiotics that you van make yourself for a one time cost of about $5/R80, read on. My whole family also drinks EMs daily as a probiotic. You can dilute what we are making today to be able to consume it, but, full disclosure, I prefer to buy it diluted and bottled for internal use. The brand pictured below contains 14 strains of beneficial bacteria that is easily absorbed in its liquid form. In South Africa I ordered it here.


Effective Microorganisms (EM) are mixed cultures of beneficial naturally-occurring organisms that can be applied as inoculants to increase the microbial diversity of the soil ecosystem. So, what does that mean? In the household, it means rather than sterilizing your surfaces with bleach and other harsh chemicals you can supplement the “bad bacteria” with “good bacteria” and according to the “dominance principle” the good bacteria will crowd out the bad.

There are so many ways to use these amazing organisms in your garden, with your pets, to clean your house, to treat grey water and on and on and on. To read more about the uses of EMs https://www.emnz.com/industries

The use that we are focusing on today is as an organic cleaning product that covers your surfaces in probiotics like lactic acid which sterilize the surface without wiping out the “good bacteria” of your surfaces (and gardens). I (Diane) use this to clean all my surfaces, floors, windows, bathrooms- the whole house. I also use it in the rinse cycle of our laundry, in our toilets to treat grey water (hello, #capetowndrought) and in the garden. You can even drink this if diluted properly. I love the idea of covering my surfaces in it with young kids always eating off the floor and licking random stuff around the house.

Like other ferments, once you buy a “mother” you can keep feeding and multiplying it endlessly.

In South Africa, I ordered this one to use as a starter.


1 part EM (approx. 400g) liquid which can be bought at most hardware type stores, garden stores and health shops for about $5/ZAR80.

1 part molasses/brown sugar (approx. 400g)


100 parts water (preferably non-chlorine) (approx. 4 litre)

1. Mix molasses and a little warm water in container (container pictured is a 5L bottle. Warm water helps dissolve the sticky molasses).

2. Add EMs and mix well.

3. Add remaining water and mix well.

4. Label with date and let it sit in a cool dark place for 2 weeks to a month before use. Store with lid on loosely to prevent gas build up (container can explode) or alternatively store air tight and remember to release gas daily. This can store for 6 to 12 months. When you are ready to use it, you can transfer it to a spray bottle. It has a fermented smell, not unlike kombucha, which I have come to associate with a clean house. You can also add essential oils to this. I like to add Thieves oil (Young Living) or OnGuard (Dōterra) which is a combination of clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, rosemary. This combination can help to neutralize bacterial and viral pathogens, which is why it is often used as a natural cleaning product, even without the addition of these potent oils, this solution is sure to pack a powerful punch.


To read more about the dilution rations of EMs https://www.gardenerspantry.ca/blog/application-rates-dilution-effective-microorganisms.html

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