“When there’s lightning during a storm, an electric charge breaks down the oxygen particles into individual ‘O’s,” explains Wilkinson. “Then they cluster together as O3, or ozone, oxidising everything in the vicinity. It’s a natural bug-blaster. That’s the fresh smell you find in the air after a storm.”
Various cleaning companies have tried to use ozone in their equipment, without success. But Wilkinson has spent £2m over four years on intensive R&D to develop a patented interfuser. This pumps a continuous stream of ozone during the wash cycle, ensuring that laundry not only comes out clean but also sterilised.
But what’s so special about that?
Ozone works particularly well on a cold wash, which means huge energy savings. The ozone treatment also kills superbugs like MRSA and the persistent Clostridium difficile bacteria.
No wonder 15 NHS trusts have switched to the JLA Otex laundry system, bumping turnover up to £45m in 2007. And with over 2,000 systems in use around the country, Wilkinson is really cleaning up.