Effectiveness of common household cleaning agents in reducing the viability of human influenza A/H1N1

Jane S. Greatorex, Rosanna F. Page, Martin D. Curran, Paul Digard, Joanne E. Enstone, Tim Wreghitt, Penny P. Powell, Darren W. Sexton, Roberto Vivancos, Jonathan S. Nguyen-Van-Tam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In the event of an influenza pandemic, the majority of people infected will be nursed at home. It is therefore important to determine simple methods for limiting the spread of the virus within the home. The purpose of this work was to test a representative range of common household cleaning agents for their effectiveness at killing or reducing the viability of influenza A virus. Methodology/Principal Findings: Plaque assays provided a robust and reproducible method for determining virus viability after disinfection, while a National Standard influenza virus RT-PCR assay (VSOP 25, www.hpa- standardmethods.org.uk) was adapted to detect viral genome, and a British Standard (BS:EN 14476:2005) was modified to determine virus killing. Conclusions/Significance: Active ingredients in a number of the cleaning agents, wipes, and tissues tested were able to rapidly render influenza virus nonviable, as determined by plaque assay. Commercially available wipes with a claimed antiviral or antibacterial effect killed or reduced virus infectivity, while nonmicrobiocidal wipes and those containing only low concentrations (<5%) of surfactants showed lower anti-influenza activity. Importantly, however, our findings indicate that it is possible to use common, low-technology agents such as 1% bleach, 10% malt vinegar, or 0.01% washing-up liquid to rapidly and completely inactivate influenza virus. Thus, in the context of the ongoing pandemic, and especially in low-resource settings, the public does not need to source specialized cleaning products, but can rapidly disinfect potentially contaminated surfaces with agents readily available in most homes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere8987
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2010


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