In vitro activity of readily available household materials against HIV-1: Is bleach enough?

N. Flynn, S. Jain, E. M. Keddie, J. R. Carlson, M. B. Jennings, H. W. Haverkos, N. Nassar, R. Anderson, Stuart H Cohen, D. Goldberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


This report describes experiments assessing the effectiveness against HIV of potential disinfecting agents that are commonly available to IDU when they are sharing syringes. We exposed cell-free HIV, HIV-infected cells, and HIV- infected blood containing known quantities of HIV to household cleaning agents, alcohols, peroxide, and highly acidic materials for 1 min, in order to examine the effects of these materials on the infectivity of the HIV. Undiluted liquid laundry bleach and dilute liquid dish detergent reduced the number of culturable HIV to an undetectable level under the experimental conditions used. Diluted bleach was not completely effective. Other potential disinfecting agents, including ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide, were unable to disinfect high numbers of HIV-infected cells or infected blood. Liquid dish detergent warrants further study as a possible acceptable alternative to bleach. Our data provide support for recommendations to IDU that they disinfect shared syringes every time between users with full-strength liquid laundry bleach to reduce their risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV. When bleach is not available, liquid dish detergent or other available disinfecting agents such as rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or high alcohol content beverages are more effective than water at disinfecting HIV, recognizing that these materials are less effective than bleach. Although these materials are effective, they should not be viewed as a substitute for decreased sharing of injection equipment by IDU, or increased availability of sterile needles and syringes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)747-753
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1994


  • Bleach
  • Disinfection
  • HIV prevention
  • Injection drug use
  • Needles and syringes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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