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Killing Coronavirus: What Works and What Doesn’t

There’s lots of uncertainty around what kills Coronavirus on hands and surfaces. Here’s a breakdown of what kills COVID-19 and what’s just a myth.

In this frenzied time, where misinformation is all over social media and there’s still a lot we don’t know about the novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19, it can be hard to separate myths and realities about what kills Coronavirus. The following information is directly from the World Health Organization, which is one of a few sources that we trust to give us up-to-date, accurate information about the coronavirus. 


We’ll start with what DOESN’T work to kill Coronavirus:

  • Hand Dryers. Hand dryers don’t kill the virus. Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water, and then using a hand dryer or paper towels does kill the virus. 
  • Saline Nose Rinse. There’s no evidence that rinsing your nose protects people from infection with the virus. While it may help you recover from a common cold, it’s doesn’t cut it for COVID-19. 
  • Eating Garlic. Delicious? Yes. Does it offer protection from Coronavirus infection? Nope. 
  • Rubbing Sesame Oil on Your Skin. Sesame oil doesn’t kill the virus. Washing your hands with soap and water is a better bet. 
  • Vaccines Against Pneumonia. Pneumonia vaccines don’t protect against the new coronavirus. It will need it’s own vaccine, which the WHO and CDC are working on now. Still, not a bad idea. 
  • Antibiotics. COVID-19 is a virus, not a bacterial infection, so antibiotics don’t prevent or treat it. People who are hospitalized for COVID-19 might get them in case they’re co-infected with other bacterial illnesses. 


Here’s what DOES kill Coronavirus:

  • Handwashing with Soap and Water. The first and best defense! Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. That’s about the length of the happy birthday song twice. Then, dry them with paper towels or a warm hand dryer. 
  • Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizer. There’s evidence that alcohol-based hand sanitizers do work to kill Coronavirus. Remember to rub vigorously just like you do when you wash your hands in the sink, for at least 20 seconds. 


All of this information is being updated rapidly. Use sources of information that are trustworthy like the WHO and the CDC. When in doubt, washing your hands and cleaning key touch points with an EPA-approved cleaner are the best ways to avoid getting and spreading infection!


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