We’ve been thinking about this series for ages...we come across so many misconceptions everyday, and we hope that by calling them out and explaining the science we will start to create a community of people with a decent enough understanding of everyday science that myths can be busted wherever they crop up.
The first myth we’ll bust is the misconception that antibacterial anything kills COVID-19. There are two linked misconceptions here. Firstly, COVID-19 is a virus, so a cleaning product that is effective against bacteria will not be effective against a virus, which has a very different structure.
The second myth is that viruses can be killed by anything. Viruses aren’t alive, so they can’t be killed. You might remember our old friend MRS GREN; the mnemonic that helps us remember the characteristics of all living things. All living things can:
Viruses such as COVID-19 are tiny, super simple structures that need to take over the cells of a host in order to reproduce. Therefore, you can’t kill a virus as it was never alive in the first place. So what language can we use instead, to maintain our smartarse status? You can denature viruses and at a stretch you could say you‘ve destroyed a virus, and you need an antiviral cleanser to do that. That sounds a bit complicated and cleaning product companies take advantage of non-smartarse folks all the time, charging a fortune for an ‘anti-viral‘ label. In fact, plain old soap based detergents are great at defeating viruses, and household bleach at a normal dilution will give soap a bit of boost.