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Ozone for Laundry Disinfection and Bleaching

Laundry is an essential function for all institutional housekeeping departments but in health care facilities laundry plays an even more important role -- not only contributing to comfort and aesthetics but also assisting with infection control. Because of its high level of energy chemical and water consumption laundry processing also has a significant impact on hospitals’ environmental and financial bottom line.


The powerful disinfection ability of ozone has made it a popular choice for purifying drinking water swimming pool cooling tower water makes it a useful addition to the hospital laundry in particular.An increasing number of institutional laundries are adapting ozone treatment as an adjunct to conventional laundry chemicals and methods.

Ozone laundry systems work by injecting O3 or ozone a form of oxygen into washwater. The O3 molecule breaks down rapidly oxidizing the fatty oils that cause dirt to bind to cloth disinfecting water and bleaching linens as it does so. Ozone’s only breakdown by-products are oxygen and water. Because it involves no chemical residues in fabrics it requires less rinsing than other bleaching agents.

Ozone technology promises better deodorization shorter laundry cycles and improved sanitation all with the use of lower temperature water which saves on energy consumption and costs. Ozone is a stronger oxidizer than chlorine bleach and has been shown to be a highly effective disinfectant – it is even used in sterilization systems. In addition ozone generators can be installed as an add-on to conventional systems which enables older laundries to adapt their facilities without replacing costly machines. Water and sewer consumption can be reduced significantly – between 15 - 25% -- by the adoption of ozone technologies and energy costs are lessened by the reduction in hot water usage. Washing at lower temperatures can help extend the life of frequently laundered linens and users consistently report that linens are fluffier and softer than those bleached with chlorine.

Numerous nursing homes have adopted ozone laundry systems as have hotels prisons and hospitals. Users’ testimonials evidence their satisfaction with the system’s whitening abilities disinfection properties and significant cost savings over conventional laundry.

A few caveats concerning ozone laundry systems – ozone can speed up the normal break down of rubber seals and pipes so some laundry equipment may need to be adapted for systematic use. And ozone can present an indoor air quality issue if there is a leak into the laundry room though except at very high concentrations it does not present an acute health hazard. Since ozone is created through the use of an electrical charge its generation can be stopped immediately if any leak is perceived. A standard laundry ventilation system should be able to flush any excess ozone levels in short order and a well- functioning system should not release ozone to the indoor environment.