Ozone as a Solution for Hospital and Healthcare Laundry Facilities

If you’ve spent anytime at any healthcare facility where patients with suppressed immune systems are being treated, you’ve no doubt heard about the threat of antibiotic resistant bacteria that can prove to be fatal for such patients. It seems logical that the best way to combat this problem would be through preventative measures, so let’s go through some steps healthcare facilities can employ to help decrease the risk of patients coming into contact with these superbugs.

A Growing Problem

Recently another superbug was discovered. CRE (carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae) is yet another antibiotic resistant germ that’s proving to be detrimental to those in hospitals, nursing homes and other health care settings. This is added to MRSA, C diff, staph and a host of others viruses, bacteria and germs that are increasingly hard to treat in infected patients suffering from a hospital acquired infection.

Steps to Prevent Infection

For decades hospital staff have been trained to wear gowns and masks when entering a patient’s room where these infections are known to exist. Thorough cleaning of all hard surfaces in the room and diligent hand washing are also standard practices in an attempt to prevent spreading these diseases to other patients and healthcare workers. One place that has traditionally been overlooked is healthcare linen. Patients spend most of their day in bed, in constant contact with their gowns and sheets while hospital staff are in their scrubs all day. Fortunately, there seems to be a move to increase awareness of the role clean and sanitized laundry plays in preventing the spread of hospital born infections.

Getting the Laundry Clean

We recently shared one way to decrease contaminates in healthcare laundry is through the use of barrier machines, a perfect solution to keep soiled goods separated from clean, and thereby avoiding cross contaminating laundry.  After taking every precaution possible to eliminate cross contaminating laundry there are still some “superbugs” that can survive the wash process and infect the entire load. Microbes like staph, c. diff, and MRSA are able to survive a normal wash, even with hot water, and possibly infecting patients that previously weren’t affected. These infectious agents negatively impact patient health, lengthen hospital stays, and can be fatal to those with already weakened immune systems.

But Wait – There’s More We Can Do

To ensure that your laundry is indeed clean and sanitized you need add an ozone unit to the wash. Pairing ozone with laundry has been around a long time but many people still aren’t aware of its disinfecting qualities. C. diff spores have a hard outer shell that is impervious to a typical wash cycle but when ozone is added there’s a 99.999% kill rate. Staph is destroyed when exposed to fairly low concentrations of ozone.  For detailed information, refer to our detailed list of pathogen kill rates.  According to an article in the Daily Mail, ozone is highly effective in getting rid of C diff in laundry. They state, “ when it’s concentrated inside a washing machine, ozone breaks down and destroys organic matter – including bacteria. Tests by Microsearch found washing done with ozone in the water came out free of C.diff. the other bonus of this system (introduced in the UK by laundry firm JLA) is that the water has to be cool because hot water breaks down the ozone and turns it back into regular oxygen.  This means laundry departments don’t have to use as much energy.”

Although no tests have been run to check CRE kill rates in laundry, if ozone can kill CRE on hard surfaces we can conclude there should be similar results for laundry as we know ozone can kill c. diff, MRSA, staph and others in the laundry.

Studies to Back the Claims

There are several studies that illustrate the benefits of adding ozone to laundry:

Facility Management article

Ecotex case study

UNESCO-EOLSS study

Caromont Health study

Completely Cleaning the Room

There is some new technology out there that is designed to kill germs in patient’s rooms. It involves loading a robot with cartridges of hydrogen peroxide and ozone to fumigate the room, reaching all nooks and crannies to completely disinfect the patients’ rooms. This method has proven to have a 99.99% kill rate for CRE and other germs.  Medizone International is a leading company providing this solution.  Companies like Xenex and Tru-D are using Ultra Violet (UV) light to kill germs and reduce infections.

In addition to completely cleaning patient rooms there is a new sterilization unit made by a company called TSO3 designed to sterilize surgical and other instruments by using a combination of hydrogen peroxide and ozone.

Who Else is Using Ozone?

In addition to health care laundry, athletic departments are increasingly turning to ozone to help protect their athletes from staph infections that can plague teams at times.

There are some factions in the food service industry that have begun to replace bleach solution with ozonated water.

In closing, the best way to protect patients from hospital acquired infections spread through linens is a one, two punch with barrier machines and ozone, which has a proven track record of destroying harmful pathogens.

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