I didn’t post anything about the recent study1 showing that handwashing + face masks reduces influenza spread, because other blogs covered it fairly extensively (for example, here’s Avian Flu Diary’s commentary). Here’s another study giving a common-sense check:

… in a household setting, simple, readily available products such as 1% bleach, 10% vinegar and 0.01% washing up liquid all make convenient, easy to handle killing agents for influenza virus A/H1N1. These findings can be readily translated into simple public health advice, even in low resource settings. The public do not need to source more sophisticated cleaning products than these.

Greatorex, J., Page, R., Curran, M., Digard, P., Enstone, J., Wreghitt, T., Powell, P., Sexton, D., Vivancos, R., & Nguyen-Van-Tam, J. (2010). Effectiveness of Common Household Cleaning Agents in Reducing the Viability of Human Influenza A/H1N1 PLoS ONE, 5 (2) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008987

(My emphasis) Their figures show that these common solutions almost immediately reduced the numbers of virus from between 1 and 100 million at the start, to undetectable levels (less than 200). Hot water, not surprisingly, didn’t work.

They also added that “branded anti-bacterial wipes and anti-viral tissues were encouragingly effective at inactivating the virus“, so if you’d rather buy something expensive, go ahead.


  1. Aiello, A., Murray, G., Perez, V., Coulborn, R., Davis, B., Uddin, M., Shay, D., Waterman, S., & Monto, A. (2010). Mask Use, Hand Hygiene, and Seasonal Influenza?Like Illness among Young Adults: A Randomized Intervention Trial The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 201 (4), 491-498 DOI: 10.1086/650396[]