Fact Check: Can standard mouthwash kill the coronavirus?

Quick Take

A social media post claims that standard gargle, mouthwash, has been proven to kill the coronavirus. We fact checked and found this claim to be Mostly False.

The Claim

‘Standard gargle, mouthwash, has been proven to kill the coronavirus. If you get it, you may reduce viral replication’ says a social media post. The post can be found here and a screenshot is posted below.


Can mouthwash kill Coronavirus?

According to a study, “β-cyclodextrin and citrox (bioflavonoids) (CDCM) could decrease the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) salivary viral load.” But, this just states that it can reduce the viral load only in saliva and does not treat coronavirus. 

Is the study sufficient to derive a result?

No, only CDCM has shown some promising results in 154 participants in a trial. That is a very small number to impose the study on a mass population. It is also unlikely to have much impact on transmission in the community. A lot of research is needed to reach a conclusion.

Can using a mouthwash eliminate the virus completely?

The virus is always being replenished from the mouth, nose and lungs. A mouthwash can only kill the virus in the mouth. It’s not going to have any impact on the virus in the nose or lungs. The mouthwash would only reduce live virus in the mouth for a short amount of time. This means it is unlikely to have an impact on disease.

Furthermore, Listerine Antiseptic mouthwash company states that it is not intended to prevent or treat COVID-19 and should be used only as directed on the product label. The available data is insufficient about mouthwashes having activity against enveloped viruses, including coronavirus, the available data is insufficient, and no evidence-based clinical conclusions can be drawn with regards to the antiviral efficacy of LISTERINE® Antiseptic mouthwash at this time.

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