Biofilms have been defined as “slime-enclosed communities of microorganisms”.
Where are they found?
One place is in your mouth. Dental hygienists will tell you that the plaque on your teeth is a biofilm. The microorganisms in plaque can lead to gum disease, which can in turn lead to serious problems like heart disease.
Where else can you find them?
Everywhere—in nature, in hospitals and in your home. Biofilms are the reason that germs, bacteria and viruses are so difficult to kill. Standard antibiotics and disinfectants often fail because they do not penetrate biofilms fully or do not harm bacteria of all species and metabolic states in the films.
How are they formed?
Free-swimming bacterial cells gather on a surface, such as your kitchen counter, and arrange themselves in clusters and attach. Then, the collection of cells begin to produce a gooey matrix that surrounds them. The cells signal one another to multiply and they begin to form a microcolony. Finally, chemical layers build up and promote the coexistence of diverse species and metabolic states within the group. Some cells return to their free-living form and escape and go on to form new biofilms.
Why are biofilms so resilient?
At times, antibiotics and germ-fighting cleansers may fail to pierce the film. Antibiotics can have a difficult time penetrating biofilms containing cells that produce enzymes. These enzymes break down the antibiotic before it can get inside, so it never reaches the deeper layers of a biofilm.
Even chlorine bleach, a favorite of home and industry, has a hard time eradicating biofilms. This reactive oxidant will eventually burn its way in, but first it must break through, layer by layer, and not lose all its potency before the enzymes neutralize it.
For this process to work, it takes a lot of bleach and something called “dwell time”. The chemical must remain potent and in contact with the microorganism for as long as 10 minutes or maybe longer. Even in cases where a chemical penetrates a biofilm easily, the microorganisms often still survive aggressive treatment that would eradicate free-floating cells.
At home, most people don’t think about the length of time required to kill bugs with chemicals. More often, they just “spritz and wipe” with their favorite chemical cleaner. They believe that all of the germs dead, but they’re not. Only a few need to survive in order to restore the biofilm to its original state in as little as a few hours.
A battle the biolfilms cannot win
When faced with the high heat of steam vapor, biofilms’ defenses are ablated. Their defensive enzymes are useless against the high heat of the steam. In laboratory tests, it is only the patented Ladybug® Steam Vapor System with TANCS® that proved its efficacy against these tough microbials, often on contact.