Neutral electrolyzed water (NEW) is an oxidizing sanitizer that can be made locally on-site; it is often stored in a ready-to-use format to accumulate the large volumes required for periodic or seasonal use. The shelf stability of NEW sanitizer was, therefore, assessed under various storage conditions to guide the development of protocols for its industrial application. To that end, fresh NEW with an available chlorine concentration (ACC) of 480 mg/L, pH 6.96, and oxidation reduction potential (ORP) of 916 mV was stored under different conditions. These were open or sealed polypropylene bottles, three different surface area–to–volume (SA:V) ratios (0.9, 1.7, and 8.7), and two temperatures (4 and 25°C). NEW stored at 4°C was significantly more stable than NEW stored at 25°C; ACC and pH decreased by 137 mg/L and 0.7, respectively, whereas ORP increased by 23 mV, after 101 days of storage. At 25°C, ACC decreased to <0.01 mg/L after 52 days in bottles with a SA:V ratio of 8.7, with a similar decrease after 101 days in bottles with a SA:V ratio of 1.7. However, pH decreased by up to 3.7 pH units, and ORP increased by up to 208 mV. The antimicrobial efficacy of “aged” electrolyzed oxidizing (EO) water with different ACC and ORP, but the same pH (i.e., 3.4 ± 0.2), was evaluated against Escherichia coli and Listeria innocua to determine any differences in residual antimicrobial activity. EO water with an ACC of ≥7 mg/L and an ORP of 1,094 mV caused a reduction of at least 4.7 log, whereas EO water with nondetectable ACC and considerably high ORP (716 mV) had little antimicrobial effect (<1-log reduction). Results from this study indicate that the efficacy of NEW as a sanitizer for large-scale applications such as horticulture can be maintained for at least 3 months when it is stored in closed containers with low SA:V ratio at low temperatures.
NEW sanitizer (480 mg/mL) was more stable when stored at 4 than at 25°C.
Containers with a lower SA:V ratio improved the stability of NEW.
Antimicrobial effects of NEW were significant at chlorine concentration >7 ppm.