COVID-19: Ingredients, supplements, & actions that can aid in prevention

Worried about the coronavirus outbreak, COVID-19? In this post, we cover the soap, hand sanitizer, cleaning ingredients, supplements & actions you can take to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Updated: April 10, 2020

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 refers to a specific disease caused by a virus found in the coronavirus family. Many types of coronavirus diseases exist (e.g., SARS), COVID-19 is the most recent.

COVID-19 symptoms include fever, tiredness, and a dry cough. While most people recover from the disease, some people become seriously ill. Especially older individuals with underlying health problems.

To get up-to-date data around infection rates and more, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website and/or Johns Hopkins' COVID-19 Dashboard.

Is COVID-19 different than influenza?

While influenza (flu) and COVID-19 can cause similar symptoms that adversely impact people's respiratory Subscribe for weekly updates_, COVID-19 is different than the flu:

  • There is a vaccine that can help prevent or decrease the intensity of influenza infections. While research is underway, there is no approved COVID-19 vaccine yet. 
  • COVID-19 has a longer incubation time allowing it to spread to more people.
  • The mortality rate for COVID-19 is higher than influenza however large-scale social distancing measures are helping to slow the spread of COVID-19.  

Learn how you can help to prevent COVID-19 infections from spreading. 

What can I do to prevent getting COVID-19?

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC recommend:

  • washing your hands often with soap and water. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • avoiding contact with people who are sick.
  • avoiding large crowds in areas where viruses are prevalent.
  • staying home while you are ill and avoiding close contact with others.
  • covering your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • wearing a cloth face mask when around others. 
  • cleaning doorknobs, light switches, and commonly touched areas with disinfectant frequently.

What ingredients do I need to look for in COVID-19 preventative soap?

You do not need to look for a specific ingredient in soap for soap to be effective. While some soaps contain additional anti-bacterial ingredients (e.g., benzethonium chloride), these soaps are not necessary to aid in COVID-19 prevention.

Any soap will aid in the prevention of COVID-19 because the physical act of lathering soap, washing, and rinsing hands for at least 20 seconds and then drying hands helps reduce the viruses and bacteria present on your hands by more than 90%.

Learn how to wash your hands effectively with this video from Johns Hopkins Medicine.


What ingredients do I need to look for in COVID-19 preventative hand sanitizer?

The CDC recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% ethyl alcohol
It's essential to follow the directions on the packaging to ensure you're using it effectively. If you don't follow the instructions, it may not be effective in reducing the bacteria and viruses present on your hands. 
Please note that alcohol suitable for adult consumption such as vodka, gin, or whiskey does not contain enough alcohol to be effective as a COVID-19 approved hand sanitizer. 

What ingredients do I need to look for in COVID-19 preventative cleaning products?

There are more than 100 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and CDC approved cleaning products that can effectively kill the coronaviruses. The EPA legally requires any product that can kill bacteria and viruses to be registered with the agency. 
When looking for a cleaning product to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, look for specific phrases on packaging such as "Kills Cold & Flu Viruses" and "Kills 99.9% of Viruses & Bacteria."

For hard surfaces, you can always use a homemade bleach solution to help combat the spread of COVID-19. 

To make the above claims, companies need to register their products with the EPA, and the products will contain an EPA registration number on the packaging. You can easily look up the "EPA Reg. No." or name and verify the product using the EPA search tool.

What supplements can I take to prevent COVID-19?

There are currently no known supplements that will prevent or reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19. 
The best way to avoid any communicable illness, not just COVID-19, is to follow the above CDC and WHO recommendations, such as hand washing, and to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Can I make effective, COVID-19 preventative cleaning products using essential oils and GRAS ingredients?

Currently, the CDC does NOT recommend using essential oils such as lavender oil or GRAS ingredients such as vinegar in homemade cleaning products to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 
If you would like to make an effective cleaning solution at home using bleach, you can follow the recipe approved by the CDC.

Can I make effective, COVID-19 preventive soap? 

Yes, as discussed above, any soap is effective as long as you wash your hands properly.
However, before trying a homemade soap, ensure the soap's pH level is in the appropriate range of 9-10. If the pH level is too high, it can damage skin.

Can I make an effective, COVID-19 preventative hand sanitizer?

Currently, it's not recommended that you make your own hand sanitizers because it can be hard to source ingredients are the right potency and to get the measurements correct.
It's best to wash hands rather than making a hand sanitizing product, or to use commercially available alcohol-based hand sanitizer when hand washing is unavailable. 

The good news.

Thankfully, social distancing and good habits like frequent hand washing and home disinfecting will prevent the spread of all contagious diseases, not just COVID-19.

Hopefully, with more Americans following the protocols and advice outlined above for COVID-19, we will see a decrease in all communicable infections and that, in turn, will help lessen the burden on our healthcare system.


NOTE: a previous version of this post contained calculations and recommendations based on data from the CDC accessed on March 9, 2020 at 13:10 EST. This information is no longer relevant and this blog post been updated on April 10, 2020, to reflect the current state-of-the-science.  
Flu data: 
COVID-19 data: 


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