Cleaning with aqueous ozone. A case study.
University of Wisconsin-Madison adopted aqueous ozone ewater in 2012. It is now used as the primary cleaning product in 28 campus buildings – 26 residence halls, 1 dining hall and an admin building. What follows are excerpts of an interview with Jodi Krause, Assistant Director Housekeeping. Jodi was instrumental in the testing and subsequent deployment of the technology and she provides valuable insights into the school’s use of this special ewater.
Which products has the ozone ewater replaced?
JK: While our experience might not be the same for everyone else, for us the ewater has replaced what I call “The Big 3” – glass cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, and disinfectants. We now use only the aqueous ozone ewater for those jobs where we would have previously used traditional chemicals.
Even eliminated disinfectants? Talk about how you use the ewater as a replacement for disinfectants.
JK: We were using a disinfectant to clean bathrooms, elevator buttons, grab rails, and similar touch points. Part of our due diligence was doing ATP meter testing and that showed us clearly that we were getting surfaces as clean, if not cleaner, using the ozone ewater. We had the results and the evidence to know that we could stop using the chemical disinfectant for those applications.
In an article you mentioned that you’ve seen a drop in the flu outbreaks in the dorms. Is that still the case?
JK: I can only share what our experience has been. We had a confirmed case of Norovirus in one of our Residence Halls. As is our practice, we increased our efforts to sanitize touch points in the Hall – using the ozone ewater to wipe all resident room door handles, elevator buttons and bathroom surfaces more often throughout the day. The virus didn’t spread outside of the one room that was confirmed to be contaminated. Prior to using the ewater, we would see these illnesses spread to the entire wing or floor of the Hall and sometimes even multiple floors. That didn’t happen with the ewater – it was a great experience to have.
I don’t have numbers on how many flu cases we had in the Halls before and after using the ozone ewater. I just know that we haven’t had the number of known outbreaks that we’ve seen in years past – prior to using the ewater.
Regarding “green” chemistry, there are many great green chemical products on the market today – what are the benefits of engineered water over even the best green chemicals?
JK: I agree, there are some wonderful green chemicals out there and I hope every facility takes advantage of using them over non-green chemicals. However, with ozone ewater made on-site there are reduced numbers of containers to store, no containers to dispose of, reduced transportation costs, less disposal costs, nothing to dilute or mix. We get better air quality – not breathing in toxins, reduced SKU#’s [part numbers] on our product list, and cleaner surfaces. Even better is that the aqueous ozone ewater is Green Seal Certified both as a cleaner and as a sanitizer.
You had staff with health concerns and conditions, possibly from the chemicals used prior. Can you say if irritations – skin rashes, headaches, respiratory – were eliminated when chemicals went out and ewater came in?
JK: Yes, staff that have previously experienced skin rashes and/or breathing issues are no longer experiencing those issues. After all, you breathe what you spray. They are not seeing the redness or rash on their skin. Staff with breathing issues do not have the same struggle using the ozone ewater as they did with chemicals. It is a fact for our staff.
In what kind of equipment are you effectively using the ewater? Auto-scrubbers, carpet extractors, other?
JK: We are effectively using the ozone ewater in all of our kaivac machines, auto-scrubbers, and in our extractors for upholstery and carpet. We use it in all our equipment except for the steam extractors, since heating the ozone ewater inactivates it. In situations where we use the steam extractor, we pretreat with the ewater. We no longer put chemicals into any of our extractors – no shampoo, no defoamers – we fill them only with ozone ewater. Not only does the ozone ewater leave no residue on surfaces, it leaves no residue inside the machines. We’ve noticed that our machines last longer with fewer maintenance issues because we’re no longer filling them with harsh chemicals that foul pumps and corrode belts.
Talk about cleaning efficacy. Do you find that cleaned surfaces stay cleaner longer when ewater is used, and why is that?
JK: Yes, our experience has been that because the ewater leaves no residue behind – which is what traps dirt – surfaces stay cleaner longer. We have seen great results washing our walls – they are brighter after the removal of years of chemical residue. The finishes on surfaces, such as paint, also hold up better. The ozone ewater isn’t removing the paint when we wash walls and baseboards or damaging wood or laminates like chemicals can.
This is also true for carpets when they are cleaned with ozone ewater. Detergent residue left in the carpet fibers attracts and traps soil. With ewater, no chemical residue means carpets don’t trap as much soil. The carpets are definitely cleaner and smell fresher.