How to Clean & Sanitize a Reverse Osmosis (RO) System With Vital Oxide

We all know the benefits of drinking clean water. Water is, after all, the essence of life. These days, many consumers opt to install reverse osmosis (RO) systems in their homes to protect themselves and their loved ones from harmful chemicals and contaminants like arsenic, lead, copper, sediments, sodium, and particulates commonly found in residential tap water. RO system technology is also effective at filtering out most forms of bacteria. However, as with all filtration systems, for RO to effectively remove bacteria and other contaminants, the system must be regularly cleaned and sanitized. 

Whether you’ve already invested in an RO system or you’re thinking about making the switch, we’ve compiled a few helpful tips to keep your system working its best.

What is Reverse Osmosis (RO) & How Does It Work? 

Reverse osmosis (RO) is a type of water filtration system that uses a semipermeable membrane to filter your home’s water. This thin membrane is made up of tiny pores to pass clean water through – while rejecting larger molecules containing contaminants and impurities. While the water is being filtered, it moves from a high concentration to a lower concentration through the semipermeable membrane with the help of external pressure. RO has mainly been used to produce purified water for industrial settings, for instance, seawater desalination, but can now be used on a smaller scale to filter your home’s drinking water.

There are many benefits to using an RO system in your home. If you’ve decided to make the switch, there’s a bit of maintenance with your RO system that’s critical to know. Doing so will provide you with a cleaner, more effective RO system, resulting in refreshing, great-tasting water.

Why Your RO System Needs To Be Cleaned & Sanitized 

One of the significant benefits of using an RO system at home is that you can enjoy H2O that’s free of impurities any time you wish. However, over time, microorganisms can build up within the system and lead to the accumulation of biofilm. Biofilm (sometimes referred to as slime) is a collection of microorganisms made up of bacteria, which cells adhere to each other and to any surface. If you don’t clean and sanitize your RO system regularly, the water produced could be contaminated by bacterial biofilm. And worse, without regular maintenance, your RO system can literally become an incubator for bacteria – which can lead to a number of serious health risks.

Most conventional cleaners and disinfectants are not safe for use in RO systems, nor are they effective against biofilm. Biofilms present challenges due to their inherent characteristic of protecting inner organisms from contact with conventional disinfectants. However, Vital Oxide is a class apart. Vital Oxide’s active ingredient, chlorine dioxide (ClO2), is effective at eliminating biofilms. In addition, Vital Oxide is the ideal cleaner and sanitizer for your RO system; it’s non-corrosive to most treated articles, and it’s also an NSF-certified (no rinse required) food-contact surface sanitizer. As well as being highly effective against tough-to-kill biofilms, Vital Oxide kills 99.999% of bacteria, including E. coli, Salmonella, Sphingomonas, and Listeria, in less than 60 seconds. 

Related: Vital Oxide VS Bacterial Biofilm 

Maintaining Your RO System

A high-quality RO system can filter your home’s water for years if maintained properly. The first step should always be to consult the owner’s manual for your particular system. Your RO system’s filters and membranes will need to be changed at regular intervals (usually every 3 to 6 months), so it’s ideal to carry out the cleaning and sanitization simultaneously. However, if the water system in your home is subject to a critical event or natural disaster (such as flooding or a hurricane), it’s vital to completely clean and sanitize your reverse osmosis system before using it again to prevent system contamination. 

Thankfully, cleaning and sanitizing your RO system is a breeze with the right tools and know-how.

Materials Needed 

  • Vital Oxide 
  • Sanitation gloves 
  • Eye protection 
  • Vacuum
  • Screwdriver
  • New RO system filters, O-rings, and membrane (check your system’s manual for recommendations)

RO System Step-by-Step Cleaning & Sanitization Guide (Time Needed – 2 to 3 Hours)

  1. Start by vacuuming the area where you’ll be working to make sure it’s as dust-free as possible. 
  2. Switch off the water supply that’s connected to your RO system. If the system is connected to your refrigerator, be sure to disconnect it there too. 
  3. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water. Put on your gloves and eye protection. 
  4. Open the RO faucet and allow the whole system to drain. Since this water is all completely filtered, feel free to collect it for later use, like watering your plants! Close the faucet once the drainage is complete. 
  5. Start by removing the pre-filter first (this is the first filter that water passes through in your system). To do this, you’ll need to open the housing and remove the old filter. Do the same with all filters installed before the tank, but leave the post-filter in place for now. That is the one after the tank.
  6. Remove the membrane and set it off to the side. 
  7. Do not replace the filters, but close the housing and screw back into position. 
  8. Pour Vital Oxide full-strength directly into the pre-filter housing. The amount of Vital Oxide needed to sanitize will depend on the size of the pre-filter housing of your particular RO unit, check with the manufacturer of your RO system to determine the best amount. 
  9. ​​Switch the water back on and allow the system to refill. Once the system is full, check for any leaks. This process can take up to 15 minutes. 
  10. Check to see if the system is fully operational by turning on the RO faucet. If water comes out as normal, switch the faucet back off and turn the incoming water supply off again. 
  11. Open the faucet and allow the RO system to drain fully. 
  12. Switch off the water supply. 
  13. Unscrew all of the housings, unpack the filters (and membrane) and install them. 
  14. Switch the water back on and check for any leaks. If you disconnected the water supply from your refrigerator, don’t forget to reconnect it! 
  15. Within the next hour, your tank will refill, and you’ll have fresh, clean filtered water once again.

At Vital Oxide, we’re proud to offer a revolutionary product that’s powerful enough to neutralize pathogens without harsh chemicals or alarming safety ratings. Follow us on Instagram (@vitaloxideofficial) for more great cleaning and disinfecting tips. If you have any questions, please Contact Us or Send Us a Message on Facebook. We're here to help. 

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