my dirty laundry
Innovative WasteWater Technology: an on-site solution


Just one 'Red Lion Inn' uses approximately 26 million gallons of water per year" in their laundry facilities. Hotels and Hospitals wash towels and linens all day long to keep up with demand. Imagine the amount of sheets and towels being washed daily by chains across the globe.  By using a combination of rather simple permaculture practices, the used laundry water can serve dual purposes, washing laundry and irrigation.

Rather than wasting water when irrigating, the decorative plants in courtyards and on green roofs, this design would use recycled greywater to irrigate the plants. Subsurface irrigation tubing and distribution system designed for use with wastewater delivers the water to the roots of the nutrient-hungry plants. The roots and sandy soil would filter out impurities as the trees and plants grew strong. 

Of course, the facilities will need to use eco-friendly, 100% phosphate free detergents in their laundry facilities. This would be the ideal application for machines with automatic dispensers that would inject ONLY the proper dose of detergent for the size of load.  It is also suggested that all facilities, especially hospitals, incorporate ozone treatment systems in their commercial wash machines.  Note that ozone treatment has been proven to destroy pathogens, at the same time as saving up to 30% of the water used to clean clothes. Ozone is not dangerous nor problematic in this application as the ozone binds with pathogens and acts as a disinfectant.

This approach can also be used in urban neighborhoods where it makes sense to place laundry mats next to community gardens and parks. Using the greywater for irrigation and the greenspace to provide filtration. A slight change in city planning could make this a great water saving modality while encouraging sustainable greenspace.  

The green spaces would be designed to handle the water input and particular characteristics of the site.  For example, in areas where the water table is high, a tree bog (or willow bog) can be created with an underlying waterproof membrane to control any leaching into groundwater.

Boring Details

(1) Ozone works in the context of commercial and industrial laundry wash rooms to boost the cleaning activity of the various chemicals and chemical compounds. It accomplishes this in several ways:

Replenishes oxygen in the wash water

Many chemicals in the wash cycle are themselves oxidants and require oxygen in their reactions with the different types of soils. Ozone, itself a form of oxygen, increases the supply of that substance, thereby increasing those chemicals' effectiveness as cleaning agents.

This allows a reduction of harsh chemicals in the wash cycle. A reduction which lessens cost and increases worker safely.

Purifies the wash water

Ozone oxidizes the soil components of the wash water causing them to form precipitates or to go into suspension so that they can more easily be removed from the wash.

By this process, the chemicals themselves are re-energized and the load on them is reduced, so they can be used in even smaller quantities and still be more effective.

Works at lower water temperature

Because ozone increases the saponification and lubricating effects of the wash chemicals, the wash does not need to be as hot. Instead of washing at the "traditional" temperatures of 140'F to 160'F, NuTek has demonstrated over and over again that comparable or better results can be obtained when the temperature is reduced by as much as 100%.

Cold water means less costly water. Cold water means less wear on the linen.

Disinfects the wash water

As one of the strongest commercially available microbiocides, ozone destroys all bacteria, viruses, blood pathogens and other harmful microorganisms found in the soiled fabrics.

Garinents are not only cleaner, but also do not pose the threat of passing along communicable diseases to either the users or the laundry workers.

Softens the wash water

Intake or source water often contains calcium, magnesium and other dissolved mineral salts that cause hardness. Ozone breaks these compounds into their individual radicals and causes them to form precipitates that can be removed by filtration. The wash is "soft' without the need for additional chemical softening agents.

Soft water means more suds from less detergent and better rinsing.

Decomposes fats, oil and grease (FOG)

Industrial laundries use strong chemicals at high pH levels to remove FOG from uniforms, mats and wipers. By infusing ozone into the wash water, these items are more easily and thoroughly cleaned with smaller quantities of harsh chemicals. The bonds that hold many of the FOG molecules together are broken and the carbon compounds are removed in the break water as dissolved C02.

Broken bonds of the FOG's means that even less detergent is neededfor the same cleaning results.

Reduces and Often Replaces Chlorine Bleach

Ozone is a very strong oxidizer and can perform the same role as a bleach as does chlorine, but without creating harmful DBP's such as THM and dioxin. It also works in the bleach cycle to provide maximum bleaching power without producing dangerous side effects.

What this means is that using the OLSS� reduces the possibility of side effects from chemicals that can harm employees and the environment.

Prevents Redeposition

Heavily soiled wash water often leads to the redeposition of the soil onto the fabrics being cleaned, causing a noticeable graying and color degradation of the material. By removing the soil elements from the solution and increasing the cleaning power of the chemicals, ozone prevents redeposition and causes a higher proportion of the soil to be removed in the break.

This means that the OLSS� produces whiter fabries with less bleach.

Efficient Deodorizer

Odor in soiled fabrics is often caused by sulfur and nitrogen compounds or by petrochemicals in the soil. Ozone's ability to break the single and double bonds that hold the molecules together in those compounds allows it to eradicate the odors and, in cases where the latter result from microbes, to prevent them from recurring.

It should be noted that ozone has been used successfully by the dry cleaning industry to remove the smell of smoke, fish and other strong, odors from soiled garments.

(2) Laundry soap is not a major issue here... for three reasons.

Firstly, the ozone treatment described above will take care of the pathogens and the odors on the fabrics. Note that ozone has been proven to replace around 70% of the detergent used to get clothes clean.

Secondly, it is a little known fact that for most loads of clothes, you DO NOT even need soap at all! We�re so strongly indoctrinated to believe we have to use soap and disinfectant on everything � think of the billions spent on detergent ads� that one tends to believe suds is good, when in fact it is counterproductive.  The fact is that the wash machine agitator and clean water does the vast majority of the work in getting clothes clean! Detergent or soap simply acts as a "surfactant", a wetting agent.

Thirdly, it has been shown that the wetting agent delivered by the SMALL amount of laundry detergent used here and purged in the greywater would actually facilitate the filtration process in the green spaces. A little soap also helps the type of plants being grown in these green spaces take up nutrients.