Ozone Laundry Review
Using ozone to do laundry could be the biggest breakthrough for residential laundry since ... we don't know when. Since washing machines? Using ozonated water, it's meant to eliminate the need for using hot water and detergent, which saves you money and is great for your health and the environment.
But does ozone laundry work?
We'll show you what we've found from personal use and what you'll want to look out for if you decide on this path.
What is Ozone Water?
Ozone water is water that's gone through a process that gives it a high concentration of ozone, or O3. We could also call it ozonated water, since it's regular water that's gone through this ozonation process. I hope you'll bear with me as I use the shorter term "ozone water" instead.
Now, isn't ozone that harmful thing that you don't want to breathe when pollution is heavy? You know, ozone action days?
Yes, that's the same ozone. Ozone is a powerful cleanser and oxidant -- it is 3 atoms of oxygen rather than the 2 we normally breathe, and when that extra atom gets released it's able to oxidize and cleanse things. You know those "oxy" cleaners sold for laundry? Same concept.
However, when pollutants combine under intense heat, high levels of ozone are produced. The mainstream view is that this is bad for anyone to breathe, especially for those with asthma or other sensitivities. Some people claim that, due to its cleansing nature, a little ozone in the air (as you find after a lightning storm) is a good thing to breathe. This is why some people actually like ozone air purifiers while others really should avoid them and why they can't be sold in California.
We won't enter the debate on ozone in the air, but we would suggest it's not a good idea for those with asthma or other sensitivities to breathe much of it.
That said, ozone is AWESOME in water for cleansing and disinfecting things, and it's widely used by the food industry for cleaning food (products like these will ozonate water for that purpose); some people drink ozone water for health purposes (again, we'll leave that debate for elsewhere); and yes ... hotels and hospitals have used ozone in their laundry process for years!
It's used for all these purposes because ozone kills pathogens like bacteria and viruses. Which is an added bonus when cleaning clothes. So ...
Can Ozone Water Really Clean Your Laundry?
I mentioned that hotels and hospitals use it in their laundry process. They may still include detergent and bleach and I don't know what else. But they also have the most stringent needs, and the ozone is known for killing pathogens.
What about at home? Can ozone water really clean your laundry without detergent? From our experience ... it cleans at least as well as detergent without the cost and without the toxic nature of most detergents.
We've talked about this in more detail on a site dedicated to this topic, but in short we tested 3 heavily soiled socks, which all had dirt rubbed aggressively on them. Here's what they looked like:
From left to right, those would be cleaned in a small load by themselves one at a time in plain water (left sock), water with detergent (middle sock), and ozone water (right sock). This is how they came out:
The first thing you should notice is that a washing machine cleans very well with water alone (left sock) for basic dirt. It might not do as well for odors, which detergent might mask with its own (chemical) scent and ozone might be able to knock out naturally.
The other interesting thing we noticed was that the sock cleaned with ozone water came out the least wrinkled.
What you can't see in this image is that there was a subtle brown spot left only on the sock cleaned with detergent. So in this simple test, detergent actually did the worst cleaning!
Now in the case of stains, we still feel you should pre-treat whether you use detergent or ozone water. You can still add bleach in either case if you need
to further whiten something, but ozone can have a bleaching effect of its own on white clothes, so if you're doing ozone laundry, we recommend using little to no bleach in the beginning and then add it slowly to see what levels you really need. In this way, an ozone laundry system may help save you a little money on bleach.
At this point, we're left with the question, "Why would you use detergent at all?" Our answer: "We don't know." Maybe you love the chemical scent of detergent and prefer to still use some (you can do so when doing ozone laundry if you like). But to us, the purpose of going with ozone is to avoid using detergent, which could easily save a family of 4 anywhere from $40 to $400 per year (since detergent prices vary so greatly).
Problems with Laundry Detergent
Besides the fact that it adds a never-ending cost to laundry, we don't love detergent because it is toxic. Yes, there are more natural brands you can choose from (and these will cost you a lot more), but even then we're not convinced of their complete safety. There are even detergent pods that send thousands of kids to the emergency room every year -- keep those out of a child's reach, because to young eyes they may look like candy!
Whatever toxins are in your detergent are dumped into our environment when the laundry is done. And whatever smells you have remaining in your clothes and on your sheets ... well, those are remnant chemicals that you're breathing and exposing to your skin all day long.
These remnants also explain laundry getting matted down, and they tend to wear out materials more quickly. So doing laundry with ozone water should help to extend the life of any fabric.
When Should You Avoid Doing Ozone Laundry?
As you can see, we've become fanboys of ozone laundry, or doing laundry with ozone water. BUT ... there are a couple rare instances where we'll caution you:
1) There will be a subtle ozone scent in the air near the washing machine while you're doing laundry. If you're highly sensitive to breathing ozone and cannot avoid being near the machine while it's running, then you might consider not using this sort of system.
2) We ran across a rare situation where the ozone can interact with elements in someone's water supply and cause a fading effect in clothes. We've spoken with one manufacturer who said it's sold thousands of ozone laundry machines and only heard this complaint a couple times. It's hard to know what in the water is triggering this when reacting to the ozone.
We just suggest cleaning some unimportant / low-cost colored clothes when you first run an ozone laundry system to make sure you're not facing this unusual situation. If you are, then of course use a company's return policy and get your money back. (Or give the product to someone you know who's using a different water supply.)
Optionally, you could just plug the system in when doing whites and help to better sanitize them; you won't need to worry about whites fading. When the product is unplugged, your water will flow through it without getting ozonated.
What Ozone Laundry System Should You Choose?
Since these products sometimes get updated, we'll point you toward general features you should look for, and we'll stay away from recommending certain brands or models:
Our bottom line is that we really feel ozone water replaces laundry detergent nicely and, given the cost of detergent, these units can pay for themselves often within a year or two. Meanwhile, you're getting healthier laundry and helping the environment by not using toxic detergents.
We hope this helps you understand the topic a little better and that you'll consider checking these systems out on Amazon (check out customer reviews there!) through the link below.
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