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COVID-19 Resource Center

Perspective from Hana Akselrod, MD, MPH
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
October 27, 2020
2 min read

Mouthwash killed coronavirus in experiment

Perspective from Hana Akselrod, MD, MPH
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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Certain mouthwashes and nasal rinses demonstrated virucidal properties that can kill a virus similar to the one that causes COVID-19, according to an experimental study.

However, mouthwash should “not to replace wearing masks and social distancing,” Craig Meyers, MS, PhD, a distinguished professor of microbiology, immunology, obstetrics and gynecology at Penn State College of Medicine, told Healio Primary Care.

In a lab experiment, certain mouthwashes inactivated a human coronavirus that is similar to SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen that causes COVID-19. Photo source: Adobe Stock

Meyers was researching how long the disinfectant characteristics of several household products took to work after the product came into contact with a surface. When a first round of tests yielded what he called “surprising results,” Meyers expanded the study’s scope, using human coronavirus 229e (HCoV) as a surrogate for SARS-CoV-2.

Craig Meyers

“While there are clear differences in the pathogenicity of these viruses, they are in the same virus family, have very similar structures, and are both human respiratory pathogens,” Meyers and colleagues wrote in the Journal of Medical Virology.

In the experiment, the researchers created cells grown from human tissue and then infected them with HCoV. They subjected the virus to several common, over-the-counter mouthwashes and rinses for 30 seconds, 1 minute and 2 minutes, and measured how much of the virus was inactivated.

The researchers reported that:

  • Johnson & Johnson’s 1% (Johnson & Johnson Consumer) baby shampoo which was used as a sinus rinse for this study inactivated 99.9% or more of the HCoV at 2 minutes; 99% at 1 minute, and less than 90% and up to 99.9% at 30 seconds.
  • Peroxide Sore Mouth (CVS), Orajel Antiseptic Rinse (Church & Dwight Co.) and 1.5% H2O2 (Cumberland-Swan) — all of which listed hydrogen peroxide as their active ingredient — inactivated less than 90% to as much as 99% of the HCoV, depending on contact time.
  • Crest Pro‐Health (Proctor & Gamble) mouthwash inactivated 99.9% to more than 99.99% of the HCoV during all three contact times.
  • Listerine Ultra (Johnson & Johnson Consumer), Equate (Wal-Mart Co.) and Antiseptic Mouthwash (CVS) inactivated less than 99.9% of the HCoV at 30 seconds.
  • Listerine Antiseptic (Johnson & Johnson Consumer) mouthwash which, according to researchers, had the same or similar inactive ingredients as Listerine Ultra, Equate and Antiseptic Mouthwash inactivated more than 99.9% of the virus at 30 seconds.

“We would suggest that these products be an added layer of protection against the infection and spread of COVID-19,” Meyers told Healio Primary Care.