Article published in the Gazet van Antwerpen - 29/12/2020
Antwerp native Joris Jansen (29) markets a cleaning product based on good bacteria with Yokuu. "Good bacteria have been the basis of natural purification for millions of years, in rivers or in the forest for example." That natural balance is what Jansen wants to restore in our homes.
While studying industrial engineering in biochemistry, Joris Jansen became passionate about the role of bacteria in our daily lives. "They are often seen as something evil, but bacteria are just inherent to the human body. A human being cannot live a healthy life without two kilograms of microbes. For example, on our skin there is a layer of microbes, just like on the surface of a leaf of a tree. They purify the air and protect against bad flora. You find bacteria on every living organism. "In recent decades, cleaning has turned out to be a real war on bacteria. Then it's too crazy that we kill off the good bacteria in our cleaning frenzy," he noted. "Because in doing so, unhealthy residues are left behind that invisibly contaminate our indoor environment. Moreover, we are becoming more and more allergic by living more and more sterile lives."
That's how Joris Jansen came up with the idea of cleaning with bacteria in 2018. He began by developing a cleaning tablet based on bacteria that get rid of autumn leaves in forests and tackle odors. "It was quite a process to select the right bacteria," he explains. "Because you have billions of them when you take one gram of soil. In the end, I isolated a number of cleaning champions. Afterwards, it was a matter of growing them up and then compressing them together with some other natural ingredients into a tablet. "YOKUU" is how he christened his product. "It refers to the Japanese word for forest therapy, a way for Japanese people to unwind. I see it as a way to bring nature back into the home. "The tablets he sells along with a diffuser. The cultivation of the bacteria is done industrially. "The tablets are pressed in the Netherlands and the atomizers are also made there. I try to keep the production process as close to home as possible."
Long-term further purification
"The idea is that you dissolve the tablets in water. You can reuse the atomizer each time. That way you immediately replace the disposable plastic packaging," he explains. "You spray the product on top of the surface, let it soak in for a moment and then wipe it off with a microfiber cloth. The fifty million good bacteria that you set to work in this way will subsequently attack invisible dirt and odors for days. So you leave behind a layer of good bacteria that further purify your home for a long time, so you have less dust and odors."
"We are becoming more and more allergic by living more and more sterile lives."
Support from city and university
For now, YOKUU can only be used for smaller areas. "Because we work with a sprayer," explains Jansen. "But I have received subsidies from the city of Antwerp to develop new products for floors and the bathroom, among other things. I will further scientifically substantiate my story in cooperation with the University of Antwerp."
For Jansen, this is just the first step. "For example, I recently discovered that bacteria also work very well to remove odors from clothing. I was sitting at the campfire with a friend and our coats smelled very much like smoke afterwards. We treated one coat with bacteria and not the other. The next morning the smoke smell from that one coat was completely gone. That's what I now want to research and optimize further."
He also discovered that his polishing bacteria counteract house dust mites. "I've already done some tests on that and I want to research and develop that further as well." For now, Yokuu is only available through Jansens' webshop. "But I'm also looking for physical retail outlets and other partners to bring my story out."