GERM warfare will be used to ensure a pub chain's toilets smell fresh after a technological breakthrough by a Tees Valley firm.

Good bacteria are used to battle and destroy dirty germs that gather in toilets in the technology developed by bio-cleaning products firm CBIO.

Now the Barracuda Group, which runs bars such as Varsity, Smith & Jones and Juniper, has rolled the system out in its pubs from Sunderland to Southampton after taking part in successful trials.

Instead of using traditional chemicals the product uses a blend of friendly bacteria to breakdown the uric acid found in urine.

CBIO, also known as Cleveland Biotech, has been based in the North-East since 1992 and breeds various good bacteria, preparing them for different action, at its labs in Stockton.

The growing success of its products comes as drinks containing good bacteria are increasingly advertised and CBIOs development director Dr Tony Brooke said: "At the end of the day if good bacteria are fit for human consumption and improve the health of your body then why not use them to improve the cleanliness of surfaces.

"Clearinate combines naturally occurring micro-organisms with cleansers which enhance the cleaning effect.

"It's more effective, cheaper and also completely biodegradable.

"The usual treatment for smelly toilets is a strong dose of chemicals - which is expensive, bad for environment and doesn't get rid of the problem.

"I think there is an acceptance that the move towards more environmentally friendly methods of cleaning is a move in the right direction.

"You hear more and more about companies improving their green credentials and a move towards environmentally friendly cleaners is a step in the right direction and away from the use of harsh chemicals."

A number of supermarkets and restaurants have also started to express an interest in using the product.

Dr Brooke added: "It's not just pubs which have the problem. Hotels, restaurants, hospitals, schools and public buildings all suffer from the smells and blockages which occur when uric acid and lime scale build up in urinals. "We have a number of clients in different sectors now and feedback has been extremely impressive."

Paul Pringle, buildings manager at Barracuda Group, said: "Everyone has had that experience of finding a lovely old pub but then being put off by the smell from the gents. Often people won't complain to the manager - they just won't go back.

"It's the older pubs which tend to have the problem because they have tiles around the urinals and on the floors. "We trialled it in a couple of our older pubs with great success and have recommended it to our managers.

"It's used in about a dozen sites across the UK at the moment.

"The smells went after about two weeks and never returned. Managers say customers have noticed and commented which is great."