As the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak spreads across the United States — with more than 7,000 cases recorded as of Tuesday evening — consumers have noticed it has been more difficult than usual to get their hands on household cleaning items that can disinfect and kill the viral particles.
Luckily, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Consumer Report and NBC News have compiled a list of simple household items that can be used to kill the coronavirus and protect you and your family from COVID-19. Keep scrolling to see which of these easy disinfectants would be the best fit for your circumstances.
Soap and Water
While it might seem simple, soap and water is one of the most effective methods of keeping yourself safe from coronavirus. While the soap removes the viral particles and suspends them, the water washes them away, keeping them from making it to a vulnerable surface of your body such as the mouth, eyes or nose.
“The virus has an outside coating, and the stuff inside — DNA or RNA — is what actually causes the disease. It's kind of like the casing on a bomb or torpedo,” Richard Sachleben, an organic chemist and a member of the American Chemical Society, told NBC News. “For a virus, that coating is a protein, and the soap or detergent break up that coating, so the virus spills its guts and falls apart.”
The CDC also recommends the use of hydrogen peroxide to disinfect contaminated objects, as it is less harsh than bleach and less likely to damage the object it is disinfecting. Do not dilute the hydrogen peroxide before use cleaning.
"Hydrogen peroxide works by producing destructive hydroxyl free radicals that can attack membrane lipids, DNA, and other essential cell components," the CDC advises, making it another effective and simple cleaner.
Bleach is an effective cleanser that will kill the coronavirus, as well as most other viruses and bacterium, but due to its harsh nature, can be difficult to clean with unless diluted with something else. The CDC advises people wear gloves and be careful not to damage their clothing or belongings while using the recommended diluted bleach solution, which consists of 5 tablespoons of bleach in 1 gallon of water or 4 tablespoons of bleach in one quart of water.
Rubbing alcohol products that are at least 60 percent alcohol will also kill the coronavirus, according to the CDC. With hand sanitizer increasingly difficult to find amid the outbreak, you can use rubbing alcohol to make DIY hand sanitizer by combining it with aloe vera gel in a 2:1 ration and adding a few drops of essential oil such as tea tree oil or lavender oil for scent, Dr. Rishi Desai, former epidemic intelligence service officer in the division of viral diseases at the CDC told Healthline.
Don'ts: White Vinegar
While cleaning with white vinegar is a common practice, don't depend on the natural cleanser to protect you from the coronavirus. Consumer Reports warns of cleaning recommendations including vinegar, "There is no evidence that they are effective against coronavirus."
Vodka is another common household item being passed around online as a DIY disinfectant for the coronavirus, but the alcohol content of the beverage is not high enough to meet the CDC recommendation of 60 percent needed to kill the virus.
Tito's Vodka tweeted a warning recently to consumers looking to use their product as a cleanser amid the outbreak.
Per the CDC, hand sanitizer needs to contain at least 60% alcohol. Tito's Handmade Vodka is 40% alcohol, and therefore does not meet the current recommendation of the CDC. Please see attached for more information. pic.twitter.com/OMwR6Oj28Q— TitosVodka (@TitosVodka) March 5, 2020
Photo credit: Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images