Updated on February 22, 2024
2 min read

Can Mouthwash Kill COVID-19?

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  • Studies show there is virucidal potential in both nasal and oral rinses. However, large-scale clinical studies are needed to test real life efficacy of mouthwashes and whether they can help reduce community transmission of COVID-19.
  • Certain mouthwashes may have the potential to reduce COVID-19 risk. This is especially true in dental medicine settings with a high level of aerosols exhaled by potentially infected people.
  • Ultimately, mouthwash is not a cure for COVID-19. Do not use it as a replacement for other risk reduction methods. 

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Can Listerine Mouthwash Kill Covid-19? 

A 2021 study found that two types of mouthwash, Listerine and prescription mouthwash Chlorhexidine, disrupted the COVID-19 virus within seconds of use in laboratory conditions.1 However, more evidence is necessary to confirm mouthwash can kill COVID-19 with regular daily use.

Moreover, these findings do not confirm mouthwash can reduce virus transmission, which Listerine corroborated.9

Research on how mouthwash affects COVID-19 is still developing. For now, scientists and medical professionals don’t consider antiseptic mouth rinses effective COVID-19 treatments. 

What Mouthwashes Have Virucidal Properties? (According to Research)

The 2021 study from Rutgers School of Dental Medicine found four mouthwashes that disrupted the COVID-19 virus:

  • Listerine
  • Chlorhexidine (prescription)
  • Betadine
  • Peroxal

However, they found that only Listerine and Chlorhexidine did so without impacting the skin cells inside the mouth. These cells are an essential protective barrier, so significant skin cell death is dangerous.

While antiseptic mouthwashes may potentially help prevent the viral transmission of COVID-19, researchers need more information before they can confirm that.

Further studies from 2020 also found that certain mouthwashes may reduce the viral impact of COVID-19.

One found that Dequonal, Betadine, and Listerine could reduce viral activity by up to three orders of magnitude to background levels.2 Another found three oral rinses with hydrogen peroxide as an active ingredient could reduce COVID-19 by 90 to 99%.3

These mouthwashes are: 

  • Peroxide Sore Mouth
  • Orajel Antiseptic Rinse
  • 1.5% H2O2

Despite promising findings, scientists urge the public not to rely on mouthwash to kill or reduce COVID-19 until more clinical evidence is gathered.

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The Effectiveness of Nasal Rinses on COVID-19

Scientists are actively researching whether nasal rinses can combat the viral load and transmission of COVID-19.

One study from Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine noted that the over-the-counter (OTC) saline nasal rinse (Neti Pot) had no effect on COVID-19 in the nasal cavity.

However, they found that a 1% baby shampoo nasal rinse solution could inactivate more than 99% of the novel coronavirus in the nasal passages. It inactivated over 99.9% of COVID-19 after 2 minutes of contact.3

Other studies show that an antiseptic nasal spray may effectively kill COVID-19 in as little as 15 seconds.7

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Last updated on February 22, 2024
10 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 22, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Xu, Chuan et al. “Differential Effects of Antiseptic Mouth Rinses on SARS-CoV-2 Infectivity In Vitro.” Pathogens, MDPI, 2021.
  2. Meister, Toni Luise et al. “Virucidal Efficacy of Different Oral Rinses Against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2.” The Journal of Infectious Diseases, Oxford Academic, 2020.
  3. Meyers, Craig et al. “Lowering the Transmission and Spread of Human Coronavirus.” Journal of Medical Virology, Wiley Online Library,. 2020.
  4. Statkute, Evelina et al. “Brief Report: The Virucidal Efficacy of Oral Rinse Components Against SARS-CoV-2 In Vitro.” Journal of Lipid Research, bioRxiv, 2020.
  5. Cavalcante-Leão, Bianca et al. “Is there scientific evidence of the mouthwashes effectiveness in reducing viral load in Covid-19? A systematic review.” Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry, National Library of Medicine, 2021.
  6. Carrouel, F et al. “Antiviral Activity of Reagents in Mouth Rinses against SARS-CoV-2.” Journal of Dental Research, National Library of Medicine, 2021.
  7. de Toledo Telles-Araujo, Gabriel et al. “Potential mouth rinses and nasal sprays that reduce SARS-CoV-2 viral load: What we know so far?” Clinics (Sao Paulo, Brazil), National Library of Medicine, 2020.
  8. Frank, Samantha et al. “In Vitro Efficacy of a Povidone-Iodine Nasal Antiseptic for Rapid Inactivation of SARS-CoV-2.” JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, National Library of Medicine, 2020.
  9. Listerine usage guidelines and COVID-19.” Listerine, J&JCl, 2023.
  10. Stetler, C. “Certain Mouthwashes Might Stop COVID-19 Virus Transmission.” Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 2021.
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