How do enzyme cleaners affect the beneficial microorganisms in the soil? Especially those in the root zone?

By Eric Hopper | Last updated: May 6, 2022

Thank you for your question. Enzymes are invaluable biological molecules responsible for countless chemical reactions which sustain all life. Enzymes are highly selective catalysts made up of amino acids, proteins, or RNA (ribonucleic acid). A catalyst is defined as a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without undergoing any permanent chemical change itself. Enzymes differ from other catalysts in their selective nature. This makes them ideal for use as a cleaner in horticultural applications.

Enzymes only react with their specific, predetermined substrate. When enzymes are formed, they take on a certain shape to ensure that only particular reactions will occur. Much like a puzzle piece, an enzyme’s specific shape determines which reaction will take place. The spot on the enzyme where the reaction occurs is known as the “active site.” This active site is much like a key hole and will only bind to a specific mineral or substrate, the key.

Throughout the entire reaction process, the enzyme is unchanged. The role an enzyme plays in these reactions is unique because the enzyme itself is not responsible for the reaction, but, rather, the speed at which it occurs. Essentially, enzymes become a biological regulatory system for many of the chemical reactions that affect plant life and are an important connection between minerals, microbes, and biological creatures. After the reaction has occurred, and the resulting chemical reactions take place, the enzyme is ready for a new reaction.

Similar to other catalysts, enzymes are able to increase the rate of chemical reactions by lowering the activation energy required for the given reaction. This is the reason enzyme formulas have become so popular in indoor horticulture, especially in hydroponic systems. By supplementing additional enzymes, growers can make sure they are maximizing the rate at which nutrient absorption occurs.

As previously mentioned, the very specific reaction ensued from enzymes is also why enzyme cleaners are ideal for garden applications. Since they are so specialized, enzymes will not negatively affect the beneficial microorganisms in the soil or root zone. On the contrary, many beneficial microorganisms actually create enzymes which, through their specific reactions, are known to accelerate plant growth. The soil, the microorganisms contained within the soil, and the plants that uptake minerals have a synergistic relationship which has been finely tuned over millions of years by evolution.

Enzymes are the glue that hold together this incredibly intricate relationship between minerals, microbes, and biological creatures. Enzyme cleaners and enzyme-based growth enhancers are great products for both indoor and outdoor horticulturists and can be used without anxiety about harming beneficial microorganisms. I hope this answers your question.

Keep on Growing,
Eric Hopper

Share this Q&A

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter


Root Health Plant Health

Written by Eric Hopper | Writer, Consultant, Product Tester

Profile Picture of Eric Hopper

Eric Hopper’s past experiences within the indoor gardening industry include being a hydroponic retail store manager and owner. Currently, he works as a writer, consultant and product tester for various indoor horticulture companies. His inquisitive nature keeps him busy seeking new technologies and methods that could help maximize a garden’s performance.

More Q&As from our experts

Related Articles

Term of the Day


Translocation is a term used to describe the movement of materials within plants. For instance, when carbohydrates are...
Read Full Term

Don't Miss the Latest News From Maximum Yield!

Stay on top of new content from Join our email newsletter and get the latest grow tips in your inbox every week.

Go back to top
Maximum Yield Logo

You must be 19 years of age or older to enter this site.

Please confirm your date of birth:

This feature requires cookies to be enabled