Which cleaning products kill stomach flu viruses like norovirus?
"Stomach flu" is just a nickname for viral gastroenteritis. It is not related to influenza, the real flu.
Norovirus is extremely hard to kill because it has adapted to survive in the acidic environment of the stomach. It has also been very difficult to test cleaning products and hand sanitizers on human norovirus because human norovirus has refused to grow in the research lab. Human norovirus loves to attack cells inside people, but does not want to infect human cells in a petri dish. So, most products have been tested on norovirus surrogates. These are similar viruses, such as feline calicivirus and murine norovirus, which are able to infect cells in a petri dish. However, we can't be absolutely certain that a product that kills these surrogates would really kill human norovirus. We just hope that they do. Some products have been tested on the real human norovirus, but they have only looked at specific features For example, one study looked at whether or not the viral capsid protein was damaged after treatment with this disinfectant. They have never been able to look at the end result, which is whether or not the norovirus still infect cells after treatment with the disinfectant.
There is hope, though! Thanks to Dr. Mary Estes, there has been a recent breakthrough in growing norovirus in a lab. So maybe soon products will be able to be tested on the real human norovirus. Until then, all I can do is give my best recommendations based on the data for products killing norovirus surrogates.
is the gold standard for germ killing. There are a few bugs resistant to chlorine bleach (such as cryptosporidium), but it is great at killing norovirus. The CDC recommends using a minimum 2% solution of household bleach in water to kill norovirus1. I usually use a 10% solution made of 0.5 cups bleach with 4.5 cups water because research has shown that 10% is more effective at a 1 minute contact time. So, I would wipe surfaces with a 10% bleach solution, let them stay wet for a few minutes, and then wipe it off. Some surfaces you can just leave it sit on till it dries (like the bathtub). Household bleach only contains 6% sodium hypochlorite which is the active "bleach" ingredient. The rest is water. So, a 2% solution of household bleach in water is actually only .12% sodium hypochlorite. A 10% solution of household bleach in is water actually only .6% sodium hypochlorite.) Clorox Clean-Up with Bleach
is also a good option except that the fumes are even worse than using plain bleach in water. Although, it does not say it kills norovirus on the label, it contains more than the CDC recommended amount of sodium hypochlorite (bleach) so it should do the job. It contains 1.84% sodium hypochlorite. Any cleaning product with more than .12% sodium hypochlorite contains enough bleach to kill norovirus according the CDC guidelines. You can even buy Clorox Bleach Germicidal Wipes
on amazon that kill norovirus. Remember that you can’t use bleach on your nice wood floor, or carpet, and it can discolor and eat holes in fabric. Wear rubber gloves and protective eye ware so you don’t get it in your eyes. Do not use chlorine bleach to clean your hands. Cleaning with bleach creates very strong fumes. Open windows if possible. I don't clean with chlorine bleach normally. I only use it when someone has vomiting or diarrhea. Also, chlorine bleach usually can’t be used at the same time as other cleaning chemicals, such as ammonia containing products like Windex, because a poisonous gas can be produced. So, use bleach by itself. Don't use a bottle of bleach that has been open too long. I contacted the Clorox company about how long an open container of bleach can be used and this is what they said. " We recommend replacing the bleach every 3 months. After one year, the bleach will be 70-80% of the label strength. Store at temperatures of 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Sodium hypochlorite bleach degrades rapidly at temperatures above 70 degrees F. The product will freeze at 15 degrees Fahrenheit; becomes slushy at 23 degrees Fahrenheit. Product is no longer effective after being frozen and should be discarded." It is fine to use bleach in laundry loads with hot water, though. That actually helps improve the performance of bleach. Storing it at high temperatures is bad for it, though.
No matter what you are cleaning with, if someone in your house has a stomach bug, wear gloves to clean and take care of them! Latex and nitrile gloves usually cost about $9.95 for a box of 100 at the grocery store. It is a little less expensive to order them on amazon.
Clorox Healthcare® Hydrogen Peroxide Spray and Wipes
Regular Clorox® and Lysol® wipes from the grocery store DO NOT CLAIM TO KILL NOROVIRUS!!!!!
and Clorox Hydrogen Peroxide Wipes that have been tested and DO kill norovirus surrogates. The products claim to have no harsh chemicals or fumes. I keep these wipes and spray on hand for areas that can't be bleached. In March 2013, I cleaned my son's orange vomit off of the carpet and wooden bedside table with the wipes and spray. It did a great job and didn't do any damage to the carpet or wood! I don't clean my house with these wipes every day since they are expensive. I save them for "special" occasions. The wipes are perfect to take with you to wipe off the grocery cart, restaurant table, or airplane seat area. They do not ruin clothing like bleach does. The wipes kill norovirus in 3 minutes and rotavirus in 1 minute. The spray kills norovirus in 1 minute and rotavirus in 1 minute. (Both are great considering Lysol Disinfectant spray takes 10 minutes to kill norovirus surrogates.) I suggest everyone send a can of these wipes to their school nurse so she can wipe down her room after sick kids are there. I sent a can to my kid's school nurses. They are not available in any stores. However, the wipes are available on amazon.
is an ethanol based cleaner that claims to kill the norovirus surrogate in only 30 seconds and is safe for most surfaces. This is a good product to use on areas that can't be bleached. In my experiments (which you can see here), Purell surface does not penetrate dirt very well. So, make sure the area you want to sanitize is already wiped clean, and then saturate it with the Purell Surface.
Clorox Broad Spectrum Quaternary Disinfectant Cleaner
made by the company Diversey also kill norovirus in 1 minute. These wipes are also based on hydrogen peroxide. I have some of these wipes. They are very nice, sturdy wipes. They seem to be a little sturdier and have a little more of a "scouring" texture than the Clorox Hydrogen Peroxide wipes. They have a mild odor that is exactly the same as the Clorox Hydrogen Peroxide wipes. They don't contain bleach and do not ruin clothing. I really, really like these wipes. So, if you want some cleaning products to keep around for emergencies, restaurants, airplanes, etc., you can't go wrong with either the Oxivir TB or the Clorox Hydrogen Peroxide wipes.
Lysol Disinfectant Spray
According to its label, Lysol Disinfectant Spray
also kills the norovirus surrogate and rotavirus. However, Lysol® wipes and Chlorox® wipes do not kill them (I e-mailed the companies and asked). There are even tiny travel sized Lysol Disinfectant Sprays
Monk Disinfectant Wipes
A website viewer recently told me about Monk Disinfectant Wipes
which claim to kill a norovirus surrogate. I asked and they were inspired by the TV show "Monk". I really liked that show.
is an all-natural non-toxic disinfectant that claims to kill a norovirus surrogate. Here is a photo of the bottle label.
I don't want anyone to go nuts and clean their entire house with chlorine bleach every day. I think regular Lysol® wipes, Clorox® wipes, and Seventh Generation cleaning products are fine to use for routine cleaning. However, I suggest keeping the Clorox Hydrogen Peroxide wipes or spray, and bleach on hand in case someone comes down with a stomach bug. Also, please remember that the one of the best cleaning products is time. Give the viruses a chance to die on their own. Don't have company, especially children, until your family has been well for 2-3 weeks after the stomach flu.
Please remember that I am not a medical doctor and this is not to be taken as medical advice.
If you would like to recommend another product, please e-mail and tell me about it (phd.annie at gmail.com).
--Annie Pryor, Ph.D.
I use PureGreen24: all-natural, non-toxic disinfectant that kills norovirus. I use it on everything. Kind of expensive, but well-worth it, I say. I use a lot more during the winter, as you might imagine. Has somewhat of a residual 24-hour disinfectant nature. Google it and you'll find the website, where you can order it and read about it.