Onsite Generation of Cleaning Solutions

Water is a very common substance; it’s virtually everywhere, and without it, we would not have anything to drink, or even a way to clean.

The latter is largely due to water’s uniqueness, and its utility as a universal solvent, capable of dissolving and carrying away more substances than any other liquid. Water expert Frank H. Stillinger said: “It is striking that so many eccentricities should occur together in one substance.”

Beyond its natural suitability as a cleaning agent, water has the ability to clean, sanitize, and/or disinfect, which has been enhanced in recent decades by electrically transforming or infusing it through:

  1. Electrolysis

  2. Ozonation.


Electrolysis of water occurs when electricity passes through water containing an electrolyte, a waterborne conductor of electricity (such as tap water’s common mineral content or softened water with an added supplement of sodium chloride or a mineral blend), to produce two streams via two different electrodes:

  1. A cathode, or positively-charged electrode, and a mildly alkaline stream

  2. An anode, or negatively-charge electrode, and a mildly acidic stream.

The streams are separated or split for dispensing as separate solutions for cleaning and sanitizing or disinfecting.


Ozonation of water, also known as aqueous ozone, results from producing ozone using electricity and infusing water with it to produce a cleaning and sanitizing effect in a single stream.

Water, once it has been altered by either method, is no longer plain water, but a chemical solution.

General Benefits

The major advantages of electrochemically activated (ECA) or ozonated-water (OW) solutions are:

  1. They are generated onsite from tap water, eliminating the need to manufacture, package, ship, store, handle, and dispose of conventional cleaning products and their packaging.

  2. They reduce or eliminate the cost of buying conventional packaged commercial cleaning chemicals.

The formulations are effective at replacing most conventional daily-use cleaning chemicals. However, they do not replace most project-use cleaners, such as gum removers, graffiti removers, strippers, or solvent-based degreasers.

Engineered Water and the EPA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers manufacturers of systems producing electrolyzed water for sanitizing or disinfection to be makers of pesticide devices that are subject to the requirements specified in 40 CFR 152.500, and require them to display an EPA Establishment Number on all devices. The EPA exempts pesticide devices from registration (unlike chemical disinfectants), but does regulate devices, per 40 CFR 152.500, for compliance with production, labeling, and testing requirements.

An exception is when the solution—for example, one produced by electrolysis—is packaged for sale or use elsewhere. If that is the case, then it must be EPA-registered just like any conventional packaged or bottled disinfectant.

Makers of devices can demonstrate efficacy of onsite generated solutions by securing test data from labs using Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) and EPA-recommended tests, as described below.

EPA Product Performance Test Guidelines OSCPP 810.2200

Companies selling pesticidal devices with sanitizing and/or disinfecting claims must generate test data per Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) guidelines and EPA-accepted test methods.

Below are examples of some of these test methods. Other test methods may be required, depending on the use and application of the antimicrobial:

Disinfecting test standards/methods

  • AOAC 955.14, 955.15, 964.02, and ASTM E-1053

Sanitizing test standards/methods

  • Food contactAOAC Method 955.16

  • Non Food contactASTM E-1153.

Posted On May 2, 2016

Allen Rathey

Principal of Winning Environments, LLC

Allen P. Rathey is an educator specializing in healthy facilities, and provides advisory and consulting support. He is past-president of The Housekeeping Channel (HC), The Healthy House Institute (HHI), and The Healthy Facilities Institute (HFI). He is the principal of Winning Environments, LLC, promoting best practices that enhance the living environment. Email for more information.

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