December 1, 2005 Microbiologist Mark Daeschel is developing a new use for white wine--it is a very good cleaner of stains! The alcohol in wine can efficiently remove countertop stains and clean fruit, a property that Daeschel hopes will become the basis for a new natural cleaner.
CORVALLIS, Ore.--You've heard wine can improve your health, but it may also help clean your kitchen counters. From grapes to wine to natural disinfectant, microbiologists have found a new use for wine.
Mark Daeschel, a microbiologist at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore., teaches people what it takes to make great Vino. He also knows there's more to wine than meets the eye. "It's just not the alcohol alone. It's not the acids alone. It's the two when you put them together," Daeschel says.
He estimates for every 100 gallons of drinkable wine, there's one gallon that's undrinkable. "It needs to be recycled, reused, or otherwise it gets just dumped into our waste drain." So Daeschel set out to make a natural cleaner with it. He found only white wine works -- red stains!
The wine acts as a disinfectant and kills salmonella, a common food-borne bacterium, within a few seconds. Daeschel says when you are watching the scene through a microscope it is total carnage.
Wine is good for cleaning kitchen countertops and fruit. You can get the same effect with almost any white wine ... But most people aren't willing to spend $10 or $20 to clean their kitchen sink. "It would be much easier to buy a product made from waste wine because, number one, it would be a lot cheaper because you don't have to pay the alcohol taxes," Daeschel says.
Daeschel is awaiting a patent on his wine cleaner. Until then you'll have two uses for that next bottle of chardonnay.
If the wine cleaner makes it to grocery store shelves, it will likely have salt added to it -- just like cooking wine -- so people won't want to drink it.
BACKGROUND: Wine is a natural antimicrobial, and scientists at Oregon State University are developing a new disinfectant containing wine to fight off microbes like bacteria. Dry white wines, such as sauvignon blancs or chardonnays, work best because they don't leave a stain or sticky residue.
ABOUT ANTIMICROBIALS: "Antimicrobial" is a word that describes both natural and man-made substances, including antibiotics and disinfectants, that can kill or slow down the growth of bacteria and viruses and other microorganisms. Sometimes microorganisms can develop a resistance over time to an antimicrobial substance, however, so that it no longer stops microbes from growing. Naturally occurring alternatives could help address this problem.
WHY IT WORKS: We've all heard advice from seasoned travelers that it's often better to drink the wine than the water in a foreign country. There is some truth to the adage. Wine drinkers, for example, rarely suffer from food poisoning, such as salmonella (the leading cause of food poisoning). The wine's natural acids combine with its alcohol content to kill bacteria. The OSU scientists discovered it also kills bacteria on a kitchen counter, for example. As an added benefit, using wine as an anti-microbial, or as a natural food preservative, cuts down on the amount of chemicals in the environment, and on the long and costly development process for chemically based food preservatives.
The American Society for Microbiology contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.