Harnessing Electrolyzed Water: A Revolutionary Approach to Minimize Cross-Contamination in Healthcare Settings

Updated on April 20, 2024

In the battle against infectious diseases, healthcare facilities face a constant challenge: cross-contamination. The transfer of harmful pathogens from one surface to another poses a significant threat to patient safety. Traditional cleaning methods, while effective to some extent, often fall short in eradicating microbes entirely. However, studies have shown that a promising solution has emerged in the form of electrolyzed water. 

Electrolyzed water (EW), which is sometimes referred to as electrolyzed oxidizing water (EOW) or e-water, is a solution created through the process of electrolysis, which involves passing an electric current through a saltwater solution. This electrolysis process splits the water molecules into two primary solutions: hypochlorous acid (HOCl) and sodium hydroxide (NaOH). These components contribute to the solution’s antimicrobial and cleaning properties.

Hypochlorous acid is a result of the electrolysis process and acts as a disinfectant. It is highly effective at killing a wide range of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi – it is actually produced naturally in mammals’ bodies to fight bacteria and illness. HOCl works by disrupting the cell walls of pathogens, leading to their destruction. Despite its potent disinfecting capabilities, hypochlorous acid is free of harsh chemicals, allergens and fragrances, and safe for use in various applications, including food preparation, wound care, and surface disinfection.

Sodium hydroxide is the cleaning solution that results from the electrolysis process. It helps to break down organic matter and grease, making it easier to remove dirt, oils and stains from surfaces. While sodium hydroxide is a strong base, it is produced in relatively low concentrations, making the solution safe for use in healthcare and food processing environments.

Electrolyzed water offers several advantages over traditional cleaning chemicals:

Natural & Eco-Friendly: One of the most significant benefits of electrolyzed water is its simple, natural ingredients. Unlike many traditional cleaning chemicals that contain harsh and potentially harmful ingredients, electrolyzed water is safe for use around people, animals, and the environment. This makes it particularly well-suited for healthcare settings where patient safety is paramount.

No Harmful Residues: Another advantage of electrolyzed water is that it does not leave behind any harmful residues after use. Traditional cleaning chemicals may leave behind toxic residues that can pose health risks if ingested or come into contact with the skin. Electrolyzed water, on the other hand, breaks down into harmless components, leaving surfaces clean and safe for use.

Broad Spectrum Activity: HOCl – the disinfectant produced through the electrolysis process – is highly effective at killing a wide range of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. This broad spectrum activity makes it a versatile solution for disinfecting surfaces in healthcare settings. Additionally, it has been shown to be effective against antimicrobial-resistant bacteria, making it an invaluable tool in the fight against healthcare-associated infections.

Cost-Effectiveness: The long-term cost savings from electrolyzed water can be significant. Electrolyzed water can be produced on-site using readily available materials such as water and salt, reducing the need to purchase and store large quantities of commercial cleaning chemicals.

Environmental Sustainability: Electrolyzed water offers environmental benefits compared to traditional cleaning chemicals. It does not contribute to air or water pollution and does not produce harmful by-products during use. Additionally, the production of electrolyzed water consumes less energy than the manufacturing of traditional cleaning chemicals, further reducing its environmental impact.

Leveraging the power of electrolysis, this innovative approach offers a potent weapon in the fight against cross-contamination within healthcare environments. Here are some of the top ways in which e-water, and particularly hypochlorous acid is a game changer at improving safety and wellbeing in healthcare facilities.

Wound Irrigation and Dressing: Maintaining proper wound hygiene is essential in preventing infections, especially in healthcare settings where patients are vulnerable to microbial contamination. Hypochlorous acid, with its antimicrobial properties, can be (and has been) utilized for wound irrigation and dressing, since it aids in cleansing wounds by killing bacteria and promoting tissue healing. Moreover, its gentle nature makes it suitable for use on sensitive skin, minimizing the risk of irritation or allergic reactions.

HOCl’s role in the body’s defense is nothing short of extraordinary – it is found naturally in the white blood cells of mammals, acting as the body’s natural response to fight viruses and disease.

In white blood cells, particularly neutrophils, HOCl is generated by the enzyme myeloperoxidase as part of the oxidative burst – a process where reactive oxygen species (ROS) are produced to destroy invading pathogens. This process is crucial in the innate immune response, which provides the body with immediate defense against infections before the adaptive immune system kicks in.

Antimicrobial Disinfection: HOCl’s mechanism of action against pathogens is multifaceted. It exhibits broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties, capable of neutralizing viruses, bacteria, fungi, and even spores. Its mode of action involves damaging pathogen cell walls, disrupting proteins and enzymes essential for their survival, and interfering with their DNA replication processes. This multifaceted approach makes it difficult for pathogens to develop resistance, unlike conventional antibiotics.

One of the remarkable attributes of HOCl is its selectivity. While potent against pathogens, it spares mammalian cells from harm. This selectivity is crucial in minimizing collateral damage to healthy tissues during the body’s immune response, ensuring that the host remains unscathed while the invaders are eradicated.

Electrolyzed water is a safe, effective, and environmentally sustainable alternative to traditional cleaning chemicals. Its non-toxic nature, broad spectrum antimicrobial activity, and cost-effectiveness make it an ideal solution for reducing the risk of cross-contamination in healthcare environments while promoting patient safety and environmental stewardship.

In the realm of infection control, electrolyzed water and its disinfecting agent hypochlorous acid stands out as a versatile and effective tool for minimizing cross-contamination in healthcare environments. From surface disinfection to wound irrigation and its broad spectrum antimicrobial activity makes it a valuable asset in the fight against infectious diseases. By integrating electrolyzed water into cleaning and disinfection, healthcare facilities can enhance patient safety, reduce the spread of infections, and create healthier environments for all.

Joshua Schwartz
Joshua Schwartz
President & Co-Founder at Viking Pure

Joshua is an active developer of medical real estate and supportive housing. Prior to Viking Pure, Schwartz was the President of an Article 28 Diagnostic and Treatment Center. He began his career in the financial industry, first in investment banking at Citigroup and then at private equity firm Apollo Management. Josh graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Yale College with a B.A. in Economics with Distinction and holds a master's from New York University, where he graduated with Honors.