When she found her 2-year-old daughter playing with a bottle of bleach, Counter Culture founder Michelle Perkins decided to reconsider her choice of cleaning products. “It was quite jarring to see my beautiful baby and highly toxic chemicals in such close proximity,” Perkins says. “I knew that bacteria were being successfully used to regulate toxic water supplies and wondered why they couldn’t be put to use doing the same thing in our homes.”
She didn’t have to wonder for long. Perkins got to work researching probiotics and talking to microbiologists, chemical engineers, doctors, and naturopaths to ask myriad questions about how the microbiome is formed, how bacteria work and communicate, and ultimately, how to cultivate them.
“Once we found a microbial brew that was stable, sustainable, and effective, we then had the task of ‘domesticating’ it. In its purest form, it’s pretty rough!” says Perkins. “My favorite part of the process is creating the scents that work with the formulation and leave you feeling refreshed and invigorated. Walking into a freshly cleaned and tidied area is good for the soul. Cleaning shouldn’t be a chore that leaves you with a headache and feeling grumpy.”
Walking into a freshly cleaned and tidied area is good for the soul. Cleaning shouldn’t be a chore that leaves you with a headache and feeling grumpy.
Through a friend of a friend, Perkins (who lives in Australia) connected with scientists at SCD Probiotics, a Kansas City–based microbial research firm. At the time, SCD was studying the health effects on animals of replacing chemical cleaners with bacteria, specifically in chicken coops, dairy farms, and pig sties. “It was a meeting of the minds from the beginning,” Perkins recalls.
Both Perkins and SCD share a common goal of making the world a healthier place by reducing the chemical load in people’s lives—so they joined forces. What SCD brings to the table is scientific rigor, something that’s essential to Counter Culture today. “We test, evaluate, then re-test and test again to make sure the results we achieve are accurate and reproducible,” Perkins says.
Kombucha for your counters is one way to think about these bio-based products. The same way probiotics thrive in your body, Counter Culture’s probiotic microbes thrive in your home to maintain what the brand likes to call “a healthy microbiHOME.” But launching a new line of cleaning products filled with beneficial bacteria wasn’t without its challenges, especially when it came to the public’s understanding about bacteria and the microbiome.
“Everybody assumed our products were health drinks!” Perkins recalls. “Generally, the fear of bacteria and desire to ‘kill 99.9 percent’ is so deeply ingrained, it takes some people a while to get used to the idea of spreading more bacteria onto surfaces.
One of the most common comments I hear from people is ‘I can’t see the bacteria so I guess I’ll just have to trust it’s working.’ I always wonder, how do they know their traditional product is working?”
Working with an inspiring team that’s always coming up with new scientific insights or scent combinations has helped Perkins cope with the ups and downs of growing a business. Not to mention, her daughter has taken to telling her friends about the amazing products her mum makes.
With spring cleaning on the horizon, we asked Perkins how she likes to prep her home for the change of seasons. “Spritz your pillows and your mattress with Air + Fabric Refresh to help keep them fresh, clean, and smelling divine!”
Clean up your routine with these bacteria-boosted products from Counter Culture. Every product is powered by millions of good bacteria to help balance the bacteria in your home, naturally.
Swap out your toxic cleaning products and spray this probiotic cleaner everywhere from kitchen counters to bathtubs. It naturally breaks down dirt and grease, and is scented with invigorating lemongrass essential oil.
You’ll love the floral scent of this home spray made with good bacteria from 13 probiotic strains that help refresh furniture, sheets, and more. Made with only four ingredients—purified water, probiotics, lactic acid, and organic geranium essential oil—the simple formula will help you nix chemicals for good.
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