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Ozone Machines and Disinfecting


Molecule of ozone

Ozone machines are great tools, but very specific tools. What is an Ozone machine and how does it work?

An Ozone machine is designed to neutralize odor and can be extremely effective when performing something like mold removal, or cigarette smell removal. Ozone machines work by emitting the gas Ozone, or O3, which has one more Oxygen molecule than breathable O2. That third Oxygen atom actually detaches from the molecule and reattaches to other substances, altering their chemistry, and thus helping to neutralize the odor. Pretty cool right? May seem a bit intense but if used properly they are great.

When I say it’s specific it is because it should only be used in a situation with really bad odors, after you have eliminated all of the sources of the odor-causing substance. When using it on a small space like a vehicle make sure you thoroughly ventilate after use, as ozone is actually very harmful to people and especially small animals! So proper ventilation is key to making sure it is safe.

Now, on to disinfecting. Maybe I didn’t notice, but I had never seen Ozone machines and services offered to disinfect, and now with the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, I see them all the time. Much like with steam cleaning, there is a way that an Ozone machine could disinfect, but they will not with the way you generally see them used in detailing. In fact, according to the EPA:

“If used at concentrations that do not exceed public health standards, ozone applied to indoor air does not effectively remove viruses, bacteria, mold, or other biological pollutants…ozone concentrations would have to be 5 – 10 times higher than public health standards allow before the ozone could decontaminate the air sufficiently to prevent survival and regeneration of the organisms once the ozone is removed”

So, yeah, it’s not disinfecting. And even if you had the levels that high it still wouldn’t disinfect porous surfaces, which your car has a lot of. If you are however looking to help remove odors, reach for one of these units.

Ian Martinez
Gloss Angeles
Irvine, CA
Instagram | YouTube

10 comments on Ozone Machines and Disinfecting

  1. Brad says:

    I use O3 to clean CPAP machines of bacteria, I sure hope thats effective

    • Ian says:

      There’s a big difference between cleaning something like that with a small area and non porous surface and trying to do the same to an entire interior with tons of different materials.

  2. Pete Gall says:

    I have read many articles to the contrary. I think the key here is how much ozone is put out by the machines detailers use.

    • Ian says:

      Yes the amount of a big factor, and they are GREAT at removing odors, but there is a large body of research showing they are not very effective at actually sanitizing. There are better tools for that!

    • pdqgp says:

      Agree. The key to leveraging Ozone is to keep the machine located OUTSIDE the vehicle. Yes, many EPA citations show that they are ineffective and that’s the reason. Most studies never tout getting the levels to a near toxic 5-10x what humans should be exposed to. Not surprising because it’s the EPA based studies and of course they don’t want toxic levels reached.

      However, it isn’t hard to achieve those levels but the key is to keep the machine outside with access to fresh air so it can continue to create high levels of O3. If left INSIDE the vehicle, it will quickly run out of O2 and simply be running a recirculating level of O3 that won’t be sufficient at doing much.

  3. Richard Meyer says:

    Thank you for clarification!
    I’ve seen too many bad actors out there advertising how “ozone” will disinfect your car. People can Google the information and read for themselves the facts.
    Thanks again.

  4. Swan says:

    The covid 19 is protected by a fat outer wall so a degreaser may be the best agent to kill that specific virus

  5. Dan V says:

    So Jenesco is a large manufacturer of Ozone generators. I’m talking $600+ machines. Way before this epidemic they advertise that their machines remove odors, kill bacteria and specifically viruses! From what I just read, they’re falsely advertising their machines? The article clearly says that ozone would need to be 5-10 times the public health standards. Someone’s giving false information. Ugh!

    • Ian says:

      Ozone Machines are really great for what they are made for in removing odors, but yeah the sanitizing just not gonna happen.

  6. Andy Hofstetter says:

    Hi, I recently purchased a 2016 Yukon Denali from a dealership. Because I’ve owned an ozone machine for my home I was aware of the smell it puts out. The problem is that I can’t seem to rid the vehicle of the smell, it’s very strong. I’m not a detailer by trade, rather a professional hail chaser who has been around my industry for almost 30 years starting in 1991. I’m fascinated by what PROFESSIONAL detailers can do and was wondering if anyone might have some advice to rid my vehicle of this smell. I’ve tried leaving he windows down but the smell persists. Any advice would be appreciated.

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