Can mouthwash kill COVID-19?
Q: “I have read that the virus can remain on the surface of tissues for up to three hours before entering it. So would it be a good idea to rinse your throat with a product strong enough to try to kill them, like Listerine or another gargle? Can it reduce the risk of infection? ” asks Jacques Sauvé of Gatineau.
A: No, it doesn’t help.
There are several kinds of mouthwash, and not all of them have antimicrobial properties. But some do contain ingredients that kill germs – manufacturers have no right to make such claims without reason on the packaging. And one can easily find many studies which prove that these products destroy not only bacteria like those which give bad breath, but also viruses. All told, a 2018 study in Infectious Diseases and Therapy even found that some mouthwashes appear effective against coronaviruses in test tubes.
However, to kill viruses the mouthwash must come into direct contact with them. However, the coronavirus reproduces mainly in the nasal and respiratory tracts, even in the lungs, which are places that are out of reach for any gargle. And even if we managed to make the mouthwash so far (which would probably be very unpleasant, at best), some of the viruses are inside the cells and therefore would not be affected.
So it is possible that mouthwashes kill the coronaviruses that they “cross” in the mouth and throat, but this is largely insufficient to combat COVID-19. In fact, the World Health Organization said in a recent series of “debunking myths,” even with products that are much stronger (and harmful to the mucous membranes) than mouthwashes like bleach. gargling doesn’t work.