Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Electrolyzed Water: Why You Should Consider Using It

September 19, 2010

Electrolyzed or activated water — a cleaning and sanitizing solution with a strong track record of effectiveness and safety in the food processing and high-tech sectors — is now available to JanSan professionals seeking to clean while minimizing potentially harmful fiscal, health and environmental impacts.

How does Electrically Activated Water (EAW) work from a science perspective?

A small electrical charge is passed through tap water in an onboard chamber producing two ionized solutions with negative and positive charges, respectively.

The alkaline or negatively-charged stream applied to surfaces functions as a mild all-purpose cleaner, while the acidic or positively-charged stream acts as a sanitizer.

But, does it actually work? The answer is, "Yes."

Google Scholar lists thousands of references to studies showing the efficacy of electrolyzed water as a cleaning and germ-killing agent — among numerous other uses — in various industry applications from sanitizing produce and cleaning electronic liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors to disinfecting medical endoscopes and more.

Two categories of electrolyzed or activated water products are emerging in this industry: Handheld integrated sprayers and integrated floor scrubbers.

Both innovations utilize built-in electrolysis technology to produce activated water.

How It Works

How does EAW work in a cleaning product?

According to Design Concepts, an engineering and design firm that helped produce a successful EAW application for handheld sprayers, "The [tap] water is pumped from a reservoir into a ‘water cell'' to electrolyze it, separating the water into alkaline and acidic parts. The ionized water is recombined and released through a misting nozzle. During the 30-[45] seconds needed to neutralize the ionized water molecules, the alkaline constituents break up non-synthetic dirt particles and suspend them in the solution while the acidic constituents … [sanitize]."

Why don''t the two ionized streams — alkaline and acid — neutralize each other immediately?

Apparently, nano-bubbles produced in the process create a molecular barrier between the two that enables this dual efficacy to exist simultaneously, i.e. a cleaner and sanitizer in one blended solution.

This effect lasts for 30-45 seconds on the surface to be cleaned.

What else do the tiny bubbles do?

According to Bill Nye, popular science educator and television host, "Nano-bubbles carry an electric charge that electrochemically interacts with the ions on dirt particles; the bubbles thus attach to dirt and lift it from surfaces."

Where And Why

Activated water in a handheld sprayer device can be used for effectively cleaning and sanitizing glass, stainless steel, stone, marble, plastic and many other hard or resilient surfaces, plus acting as a spotter for carpet.

Activated water in an automatic scrubber is used on hard or resilient floor surfaces as a replacement for standard floor cleaning detergents.

Beyond the potential savings and positive health impacts that come with buying and using fewer chemicals, independent testing of identical walk-behind autoscrubbers on the same floor at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, demonstrated that the machine using activated water matched or surpassed the cleaning performance of the standard detergent-based system over a three-month test period.

A number of other users have conducted and documented studies side-by-side with conventional cleaning systems to compare cleaning efficacy and cost savings and have adopted the activated water technology in sprayers and/or autoscrubbers.

Other reported benefits include improved traction on walking surfaces as well as a reduction in resoiling, both related to the elimination of residual chemical often left behind when using conventional methods.


Allen P. Rathey is director of KaiScience (www.kaiscience.com), instructor in Integrated Cleaning and Measurement (ICM) programs and president of InstructionLink/JanTrain Inc. Contact him at arathey@kaiscience.com.