Every time I reach for a bottle of nearly-empty cleaning spray under my sink, I experience the same incredulous shock: I have to buy more already? I’ve only been wiping down my countertops and cabinets with this daily for what, six months?
This is why I was immediately drawn to O3 Waterworks, a new market-disrupting product that promises the exact thing my greedy subconscious pea brain has always desired: an ever-refilling container of home cleaning solution.
Lately, a wellspring of innovative cleaning companies aim to offer more eco-friendly and sustainable household cleaning products; O3 Waterworks is one of these brands, claiming to help consumers cut down on single-use plastic packaging and encouraging them to use less environmentally hazardous materials. It all works through something called aqueous ozone.
I did some research on the technology and tested the O3 Waterworks system over a few months to see if the product could replace some of my typical household sanitizing arsenal. Here’s what I learned:
What is aqueous ozone?
Ozone, a powerful oxidizing agent that snuffs out 99.9% of common bacteria and germs after 30 seconds, can kill pathogens and many other harmful microorganisms. Aqueous ozone is a suspension of O3 ozone molecules in water. It’s produced when regular water passes through an electrically charged cell, separating the oxygen molecules from the water molecules and allowing them to reform into O3 molecules. While ozone can be hazardous to humans in gas form, it is safe when infused in water—so much so that it is popular in agricultural settings for sanitizing fresh produce. This innocuousness is due to its relative instability: The aqueous ozone breaks back down into water and oxygen moments after you disperse it.
To be clear, this isn’t new, untested technology. Aqueous ozone has been used as an industrial sanitizing solution in hospitals, grocery stores, and hotels for decades, but has been inaccessible to the average consumer because the equipment required to produce it has always been too costly—until 03 Waterworks came along.
How do you use the O3 Waterworks system?
The O3 Waterworks system consists of a spray bottle and a charger. You simply charge the bottle and fill it with water. The electrical charge within the spray bottle creates an aqueous ozone solution.
Pulling the trigger on the cleaning bottle releases a steady stream of ozone-infused water, no pumping required. The bottle can’t accommodate a ton of water at a time (10 fluid ounces max), so you may find yourself taking a few seconds to refill it during a particularly thorough clean. According to the product website, the battery lasts up to 500 charges. I’ve only recharged it twice in the 6 months I’ve had it.
What it can do
You can use aqueous ozone on things conventional chemical cleaning solutions shouldn’t touch, like produce, baby toys, and furniture. I tested it on a batch of strawberries (O3 claims that aqueous ozone can help extend the life of store-bought produce) and found that those treated with aqueous ozone lasted several days longer than the control group strawberries.
I especially liked using the O3 as a defense against cross contamination in the kitchen when I was preparing meat. Typically, I wipe down my cutting boards with Clorox disinfectant if they’ve been in contact with raw meat. If I were to use the cutting board again, I would have to wash it thoroughly so no traces of the chemical scents or odors remained. With aqueous ozone, you can wipe down cutting boards, then chop vegetables on them, knowing you’ll be safe from contamination.
Aqueous ozone can also be used to eliminate odors. I used it to freshen throw pillows, furniture, and musty towels and found that it made them smell fresher and cleaner. I didn’t, however, find that it made much of a difference in odor elimination when sprayed in the air.
What it can’t do
The O3 system, while wonderful, is not a panacea. I found the aqueous ozone to be no more effective on sticky and greasy messes than plain water. For any cleaning task like removing soap scum or cleaning the stovetop that might require surfactant or detergent, the aqueous ozone won’t do a whole lot.
While the O3 Waterworks system didn’t replace all my cleaning products, it did eliminate the need for sanitizing spray and a general surface cleaner. The $199 price tag is a pain point, but if the system lasts as long as it claims to, it will save you money and reduce a great deal of plastic waste.
O3 Waterworks Cleaning System
Originally Appeared on Epicurious