The Secret to Efficient Aqueous Ozone Carpet Cleaning
Earlier this year, this publication ran an online article about the use of aqueous ozone carpet cleaning and cleaning of other fabrics, in addition to a follow-up Q&A resource.
As a result, several carpet cleaning technicians asked for more information on aqueous ozone carpet cleaning. Some requested clarification of what aqueous ozone is, what its history is, how it’s made, how safe it is, and what type of equipment is involved. Behind all of the questions was the same theme: technicians looking for new ways to clean carpets faster and more effectively.
Our goal with this article is to address these questions. We do not suggest that using aqueous ozone cleaning systems is better or more effective than other types of carpet cleaning systems; however it does have some distinct benefits. It gives technicians the ability to help minimize or eliminate carpet odors and reduce or eliminate the use of chemicals, making it a very green carpet cleaning alternative. Technicians should view this technology as another cleaning option — one more tool designed to help keep your customers’ carpets clean and healthy.
With that said, let’s start our exploration into the world of aqueous ozone.
What is ozone?
There is good ozone and not-so-good ozone. The earth is covered with an ozone layer that protects us from solar radiation. Closer to earth is the stratosphere. Ozone in the stratosphere can become smog. This is the not-so-good version. However, the ozone we are referring to in aqueous ozone is a liquid ozone that has proven to be a powerful cleaning agent that is active against soils, mold, mildew and odors.
What is the history of ozone?
Scientists first began researching ozone as far back as the 1840s. They could produce ozone using static electricity machines but attributed the odor it produced, which was similar to that noticed after an electrical storm, to the electricity. As a result, this odor was often referred to as the “odor of electricity” or electrified oxygen.
Many scientists continued to experiment with ozone and found its first important use in the 1880s when it was used in Europe and Asia to treat water. According to the Water Research Center, when used to treat water, “ozone has a greater disinfection effectiveness against bacteria and viruses compared to chlorination. In addition, the oxidizing properties can also reduce the concentration of iron, manganese, sulfur and reduce or eliminate taste and odor problems.”*
Scientists eventually found many additional uses — from cleaning beer barrels and brewery equipment in the 1930s to cleaning fruit and vegetables — for what was to become known as aqueous ozone. For decades, fruit and vegetables in the United States were cleaned using hot water, “thermal” treatments, which eliminated the many pathogens on ready-to-eat produce. But these thermal treatments also caused color degradation, vitamin loss, softening of the fruit and vegetables, and sometimes an unpleasant flavor. When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration classified the use of ozone as safe, food-processing facilities quickly adopted the process and, according to a 2004 report, found that ozone “was effective against a wide spectrum of microorganisms…including bacteria, mold spores, and fungi.”**
How is it made?
Aqueous ozone is created mechanically. The interaction of electricity and oxygen creates ozone, which is infused into water. The combination can then be poured into a container, such as a sprayer, for use in cleaning or to prespray carpet. In fact, some systems are designed to be connected directly to a sink in a janitorial closet. Referred to as “fill stations,” these systems dispense aqueous ozone.
Alternatively, the aqueous ozone can be created in what some manufacturers refer to as a “caddy,” which looks like a rolling upright carpet extractor. A traditional carpet wand can be connected directly to the caddy, allowing it to release the aqueous ozone directly to the carpet and then extract it.
According to the Water Research Center, along with its sanitizing capabilities, “the treatment process does not add chemicals to the water,” which also means that once it dries, there is no chemical residue, which is one of the key causes for rapid re-soiling of carpets.
Is it safe?
Aqueous ozone is used to treat water in the United States and around the world as well as to clean and sanitize fruits and vegetables, even medical equipment in some settings. It is harmless to people and typically evaporates or dissipates within an hour after it has been applied to a surface.
What equipment is used for carpet cleaning?
Aqueous ozone can be poured into a container, so the best way to use it is as an alternative to the solutions used to prespray carpet. As with more traditional solutions, prespray the carpet in selected areas, spraying larger amounts into problem or heavily spotted areas.
There are other benefits to aqueous ozone carpet cleaning carpet. We mentioned it is an odor killer and a very effective green cleaning alternative. No chemicals are used in the cleaning process, so it is perfect for those clients that want their carpet cleaned using environmentally preferable methods. Additionally, it can help reduce chemical costs. Facility managers at a major Midwest university report they were able to reduce their chemical use by half, which along with being a cost savings, minimized the amount of packaging and fossil fuel necessary to deliver chemicals to the university, promoting sustainability.
Finally, one more question: Is aqueous ozone carpet cleaning for you?
The best advice I can offer is to try it. There are a small number of manufacturers producing aqueous ozone equipment. The features and benefits of these brands may differ, so it can be helpful to work with a manufacturer or distributor familiar with this technology. By testing the equipment, you will be able to answer this and most all remaining questions you have about aqueous ozone.
Chlorination is the process of adding chlorine to drinking water to disinfect it and kill germs. Chlorination of water began in the U.S. in 1908 and is still used in many areas of the country.
* Brian Oram is a licensed professional geologist and soil scientist and head of the Water Research Center. Additional Source: World Health Organization: World Health Organization. Water Treatment and Pathogen Control: Process Efficiency in Achieving Safe Drinking Water. 2004 Edited by Mark W LeChevallier and Kwok-Keung Au. ISBN: 1 84339 069 8. Published by IWA Publishing, London, UK.
** Elisabete M. C. Alexandre, et al., "Influence of aqueous ozone, blanching and combined treatments on microbial load of red bell peppers, strawberries and watercress," Journal of Food Engineering, 2011, vol. 105, issue 2, pages 277-282. Äé
*** National Ozone Association, "Aqueous Ozone Applications," October 15, 2015; https://www.noai.org/aqueous-ozone-cleaning.
Michael Draper is the CEO of CleanCore Technologies, a manufacturer of aqueous ozone and engineered water cleaning systems. He can be reached via the company website at www.cleancoretech.com
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February 21, 2023