Simple Mouthwashes May Inactivate Coronaviruses Interview with:

Craig Meyers, PhD Department of Microbiology and Immunology Pennsylvania State College of Medicine Hershey, PA 

Dr. Meyers

Craig Meyers, PhD
Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Pennsylvania State College of Medicine
Hershey, PA What is the background for this study?

Response: As nasal and oral cavities are major points of entry and transmission for human coronaviruses our team of physicians and scientists (Craig Meyers, Janice Milici, Samina Alam, David Quillen, David Goldenberg and Rena Kass of Penn State College of Medicine and Richard Robison of Brigham Young University) were interested in testing common over-the-counter oral antiseptics and mouthwashes for their efficacy to inactivate infectious human coronavirus, which is structurally similar to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. While we wait for a vaccine for COVID-19 to be developed, methods to reduce transmission are needed. We chose products that are readily available and often already part of people’s daily routines. What are the main findings?x

Response: A 1% baby shampoo solution, which is often used by head and neck doctors to rinse sinuses, inactivated greater than 99.9% of human coronavirus after a two minute contact time. Several commonly available mouthwashes inactivated greater than 99.9% of virus after only 30 seconds of contact time and some inactivated 99.99% of the virus after 30 seconds. For these studies we used a strain of human coronavirus, which served as a readily available and structurally similar common surrogate for SARS-CoV-2. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The results suggest an easy to use procedure, that does not vary from the normal use, with the potential to reduce transmission of human coronavirus. People who test positive for COVID-19 and return home to quarantine may transmit the virus to those they live with. Also certain professions including dentists and other health care workers are at a constant risk of exposure. Even if the use of these solutions could reduce transmission by 50%, it would have a major impact. Clinical trials are still needed to determine if these products can reduce the amount of virus COVID-positive patients or those with high-risk occupations may spread while talking, coughing or sneezing. However, our results have already been corroborated in part by others who have showed that certain types of oral rinses could inactivate SARS-CoV-2 in similar experimental conditions. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Future studies include clinical trials as mentioned including quarantined individuals, medical professionals, and communities and individuals at greatest risk. Additionally, the continued investigation of products that inactivate human coronaviruses and what specific ingredients is important. 

This work was supported by funds from Penn State Huck Institutes for the Life Sciences.


Meyers, C, Robison, R, Milici, J, et al. Lowering the Transmission and Spread of Human Coronavirus. J Med Virol. 2020; 1– 8.


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Last Updated on October 21, 2020 by Marie Benz MD FAAD