Ozone In Commercial Laundries
Ozone has several remarkable properties for application in commercial laundries :
It is a powerful disinfectant and oxidant therefore able to disinfect microorganisms that contaminate soiled garments and linens and to oxidize organic (body) contaminants.
- It can be effective in laundry systems only in ambient temperature ("cold") waters because it decomposes rapidly at the higher conventional laundry wash waters.
- It provides its disinfection/oxidation benefits quickly and simultaneously decomposes to oxygen-containing byproducts that are beneficial for the environment.
These advantages of ozone for commercial laundering were applied in the early 1990s in the USA. Fortunately, commercial laundry equipment is constructed of ozone-resistant grade stainless steel, in order to resist corrosion by strongly alkaline chemicals used in conventional laundering.
Early testing programs using ozone revealed that ozone also provides significant economic benefits for laundering. The fact that it MUST be used in ambient temperature waters saves significant energy required to heat conventional laundry wash and rinse waters. Ozone's ability to both disinfect and oxidize reduces the amounts of chemicals used conventionally.
In turn, this benefit reduces the number of rinse cycles required conventionally. Fewer rinse cycles at ambient temperatures results in water savings, but also in longer linen life, thus lowering linen replacement costs and providing a higher quality wash. Fewer rinse cycles also means that more soiled linens can be washed in a 24-hour period, thus reducing staff labor time per day dedicated to laundering.
Because most commercial ozone equipment suppliers in the USA were not oriented toward medical and hospital applications in the early 1990s, their marketing approaches were based primarily on the economic and environmental benefits of retrofitting ozone into commercial laundries. Properly designed, installed and controlled ozone systems can save about 50 percent of conventional laundering costs, which is impressive. Four distinct types of commercial ozone laundry systems had evolved through 2009, all of which are easily retrofit onto exiting laundering equipment, each having particular advantages, and an estimated 2,000 commercial laundry systems had been installed on the USA by that same year. The public health departments of the States of Missouri and New Hampshire have formally approved one of the four ozone laundry approaches, and other states are evaluating ozone laundering.
In the United Kingdom, however, the major laundry equipment provider in that country has many customers in hospitals, nursing homes and health care facilities and therefore was quite aware of the growing epidemic spreads of "new superbug" microorganisms [methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and Clostridium difficile (C. diff)] throughout such institutions. In the late 1990s, this UK firm recognized the potentials of ozone to overcome these ever-increasing microbiological problems, and quickly set about learning the pros and cons of ozone and adapting it to commercial laundry systems.