Japanese experts find kitchen detergents may kill coronavirus

Linda J. Dodson

TOKYO — Japan’s economy ministry and the National Institute of Product Evaluation Technology announced Wednesday that simple cleaners such as kitchen detergent may be effective disinfecting agents for the new coronavirus.

The findings will be verified through experiments and preliminary results compiled in May. Japan aims to increase the range of approved disinfection methods for homes and workplaces due to a shortage of alcohol-based disinfectants.

An expert committee was set up on Tuesday and the institute prioritized the testing of three components, including surfactants contained in detergents, based on past studies.

The institute found that surfactants can be used to disinfect items such as doorknobs, desks, and tableware. In 2003, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases found these cleansers effective in the event of an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome.

The committee also fast-tracked the testing of benzalkonium chloride, which is used as a disinfectant by mixing it with ethanol, and electrolyzed water, which has been reported effective in the case of animal coronavirus contamination. Researchers will begin verification tests with the influenza virus and then test the agents against the new coronavirus.

The committee said there is no further testing needed for heating, application of 70% to 80% alcohol solution or sodium hypochlorite. It has found these disinfection methods effective against the coronavirus.

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