This Hygiene Habit Could Cut Your COVID Risk in 30 Seconds, Study Says

Adding this to your everyday routine could help protect you against the coronavirus.

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As we've learned in the past few months, washing your hands with soap or using hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol is a key way to curb the spread of COVID-19. But, it turns out that washing your mouth is also an effective preventative measure. In fact, a new study published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases found that gargling mouthwash a few times a day can help fight the coronavirus.

A group of German researchers tested eight different mouthwashes by mixing each oral rinse with virus particles and shaking it for 30 seconds to simulate gargling. When looking at the results, they discovered that every single type of mouthwash reduced the viral load, but Listerine Cool Mint was the strongest combatant, followed by Dequonal and Iso-Betadine (available in European pharmacies). And even better news? After three rinses, the mouthwashes had all but eliminated any trace of the virus.

This is important because evidence shows that COVID-19 is transmitted through respiratory droplets that are released when you sneeze, cough, talk, or sing. And since there are high viral loads in the nasal cavity, throat, and mouth, it's essential to keep those orifices clean to slow the risk and rate of transmission.

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However, the scientists note that while using mouthwash frequently is a good safety precaution (as well as a positive oral hygiene habit in general), it does not treat COVID-19 if you already have it.

"Gargling with a mouthwash cannot inhibit the production of viruses in the cells, but could reduce the viral load in the short term where the greatest potential for infection comes from, namely in the oral cavity and throat—and this could be useful in certain situations, such as at the dentist or during the medical care of COVID-19 patients," study author Toni Luise Meister said in a statement.

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These conclusions are backed up by previous research that found that mouthwash has the ability to break down the outer fatty membrane of influenza and herpes, which are "enveloped" viruses similar to coronavirus. So, the next time you go to brush your teeth, make sure to floss and swish around some mouthwash, too. And for a hygiene habit you should break, check out This Bad Habit Could Increase Your Risk of Dying From COVID, Doctor Says.

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