This guidance sheet is part of a series of guidance sheets. It should be read with our odour guidance for businesses.

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Effective microbes are non-harmful, and often beneficial, microbes that ‘eat’ harmful and odour causing microbes. They can either be added to the source where odours are being produced, such as water treatment plants, or added to the feed of animals to reduce the odours being produced. As this is not a chemically based control, the implementation of effective microbes is not harmful to the surrounding environment, humans, or animals.

Type of control


When you would use this

Effective microbes can benefit even the smallest scale operations, including personal use within your own home. They can eliminate odour on contact, instead of just masking the odour. A common household application of effective microbes is within home composting buckets. Here the microbes are sprayed onto the food scraps to eliminate the composting odour and speed up the process, allowing them to be stored inside. 

Effective microbes are also used in large scale biological filtration systems, if you operate a biofilter, bio-trickling filter, or bioscrubber it is good practice to store backup effective microbes in case of emergency.

Suitable for: works best on odours such as methane, ammonia, and hydrogen sulphide. It can reduce odour, or prevent it being produced in the first place. Similarly, effective microbes can be beneficial to grease and sludge related odours.

Industries that would use this: industries that could benefit the most from effective microbes are livestock industries (animal manure, poultry), animal handing (zoos, aquariums etc.), agriculture (improving soil quality and controlling odours from poor soils), composting, water treatment, or industries that produce a lot of grease or sludge.

Details and considerations

While effective microbes can be very beneficial in the correct circumstances, there are several things to keep in mind when deciding if effective microbes are the right odour treatment and control for your business or site:

  • The use of effective microbes is not broadly applicable, so you might consider discussion with a suitably qualified person when deciding if they are right for your business or site. For help in engaging a suitably qualified person, see the engaging consultants page. 
  • Effective microbes need to be stored in a way that will keep them ‘dormant’ until they need to be used. Storage requirements include darkness, temperatures below 10°C, and a pressurised sealed storage system meaning no oxygen can get in when opening/closing containers. 
  • Effective microbes can be added to the source of odour production and should reduce or eliminate the odour within minutes. This technique is suitable for industries such as animal handling where enclosures are sprayed down with effective microbes, or water, grease, or sludge treatment where the effective microbes can be added directly to the liquid stockpile.
  • In many animal husbandry cases, effective microbes can be added to the food and water of animals to reduce the odours they produce. This method has been trialled extensively with great success in poultry farms, with suggested applications in other livestock industries.

Read more

Odour guidance for businesses

Odour controls


This page was copied from EPA's old website. It was last updated on 8 June 2019.

Reviewed 1 October 2020