Hypochlorous Acid: Nature’s Own Non-Toxic Biocide

Much has been written and debated on various media platforms on how to specify and select disinfectants to combat a virus that up and until a few months ago was only a figment of the imagination of movie moguls and their resourceful script writers.

This discourse specifically endorses hypochlorous acid (HOCl) as the disinfectant of choice to make one’s space 100% safe for the reasons advanced here below.

Why HOCl?

Hypochlorous acid (HOCl) has got to be one of most underrated disinfectants in that it is not only simply (one of) the safest on the planet but also one that is the most lethal to pathogenic microorganisms with a kill rate of 99,9% within seconds to minutes of contact. HOCl’s kill rate is equivalent to, even exceeding, that of the most hazardous chemical and gaseous disinfection compounds available in the market place.

The primary difference between HOCl and its lethal competitor ‘bactericidal and virucidal killing cousins’ is that it is totally harmless to humans and the environment returning to Nature as salt + water.

HOCl contains no alcohol nor any harmful/toxic/hazardous chemicals – only ‘water’ and ‘salt’!

What is HOCl?

HOCl is an endogenous substance produced by the white blood cells of our immune system as part of the body’s natural defence system to combat against infection caused by illness-causing germs. HOCl is one of the only agents that is both nontoxic to the delicate cells that can heal our wounds while being lethal to almost all known pathogenic bacteria and viruses that threaten our health.

Commercially manufactured HOCl is a weak acid that is formed when chlorine dissolves in water from either a chemical reaction or by electrolysis reaction.  Most HOCl solutions are made via the electrochemical activation route (also known as ECA) with salt (NaCl) and water (H2O), which is then electrolysed to yield the chemical reaction which produces HOCl (ideally between 5 and 7ph).

HOCl is a powerful oxidising agent that destroys viruses (in particular) by the inactivation of surface proteins, destruction of the viral envelope, inactivation of viral enzymes or the destruction of viral nucleic acid collectively eradicating their potential infectivity.

Who recognises/advocates HOCl?

According to a publication in the British Dental Journal ‘Hypochlorous acid is one of the most natural and effective known biocides known to man. It eradicates all bacteria, mycobacteria, spores, fungi, viruses – even the tough Clostridium difficile – within 15 seconds. It is 200 to 300 times better than bleach and is 100% safe (to use in dental surgeries). Hypochlorous acid oxidises (explodes) the cell wall of all pathogens causing necrosis (rupturing of the cell) or apoptosis (programmed cell death) and destroys them. Though viruses are not technically living organisms, they too are destroyed by hypochlorous acid (#1)’

The WHO recommends chlorine-based disinfectants, among others, as a disinfectant of choice when it comes to combating the current pandemic (#2).

The EPA recognises HOCl as surface disinfectant capable of killing off COVID-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, by way of listing a number of approved HOCl manufacturers on their data base (#3). HOCL has not yet been tested against COVID-19 but some of the best results in the USA pandemic fight-back against the virus have HOCl as a key ingredient in their formulation.

The FDA has approved HOCl as a direct patient tissue contact wound care agent. The FDA has also approved HOCl as a disinfectant that can be utilised at 60ppm to disinfect fruit and vegetables, meat, poultry & seafood with no post-rinse required (#4).

In a well-documented study in the healthcare environment HOCl was proven to be an effective disinfectant recording high kill rates of over 40 different virulent strains of aerobic bacteria; seven bacterial spores; and four eukaryotes species The study further concluded that ‘the broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity of ECAS (HOCl) enables high-level disinfection as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and their favourable biocompatibility means that ECAS are ideally suited as both an environmental decontaminant and in the control or treatment of skin surface or mucous membrane infections‘ (#5). Interesting to note that this study was conducted via HOCl trigger spray and pressurised spray systems.

In a study undertaken by Dr Ira Daly to evaluate the cytotoxicity; acute oral toxicity; repeat doses (28 day) dermal toxicity; dermal sensitisation, acute inhalation toxicity as well as skin and eye irritation it was concluded that HOCl (of a specific manufacturer) ‘in concentrations of less than 0,0525% are not cytotoxic; nor do they demonstrate signs of acute systemic toxicity or irritation following oral or inhalation exposure. (Product name) is not a dermal sensitizer nor is it a skin or eye irritant. It failed to exhibit any signs of local or systemic toxicity following 28 days of repeat dermal administration to contact and abraded skin’ (#6).

HOCl which is manufactured homogeneously via the ECA route are virtually all the same apart from slight variations in ph and key factors such as the concentration, stability and overall quality.

Conclusive proof that HOCl is 100% safe to use as a disinfectant

Which disinfectant has a surface and aerolisation lethal kill rate of 99,9% of all known pathogenic bacteria, fungi, viruses (including COVID-2) in a matter of seconds (and/or minutes) at concentration levels as low as between 50 and 100ppm and which can simultaneously be safely:

  • inhaled;
  • applied to open wounds and burns;
  • used in dental root canal treatment;
  • applied as an ocular and/or skin treatment;
  • disinfect fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and poultry in food production premises;
  • sterilise hard surfaces and equipment;
  • consumed (accidentally) without any injurious complications and/or near fatal consequences?

(the latter medical/food related assertions are provided the HOCl formulation has been manufactured to SAHPRA; NRCS; and applicable SABS-SANS standards in South Africa)


Which disinfectant can be sprayed and/or fogged without a hazmat suit, using only a face mask, whilst humans and animals are in close attendance?


Probably only HOCl

Why is HOCl not the market leader in everyday disinfectant usage?

According to one the leading HOCl manufacturers in the USA (and it is worth repeating every last word of their acclamation) ‘the overwhelming impediment to its widespread use has been a lack of shelf stability. HOCl is the most reactive ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species). This means it reacts very easily and will quickly turn back into salt water. HOCl solutions have been used for over 100 years. In the early 1900’s during the World Wars, HOCl solutions were used for disinfecting medical equipment and dressing wounds. However, until recently, HOCl solutions would only remain stable for about 90 minutes before turning back into salt water’.

What has changed?

‘HOCl is now manufactured in a way that allows the solution to be stable for much longer than previously available. This has allowed for product to be carefully bottled and made available across the world. Although producing HOCl solutions is not challenging, stabilising the solution is very difficult’ (#7).

And in South Africa?

HOCl has long been successfully associated with the safe treatment of potable water; the poultry and dairy sectors; as well as bottling plant sterilisation in this country.

HOCl purchasers in South Africa are well advised to seek out HOCl that is manufactured under licence to SAHPRA (South African Health Products Regulatory Authority) as a medical device (disinfectant and/or medication) as that will ensure that the product purchased conforms to the highest safety standards the medical fraternity requires. The HOCl purchased should also display a  minimum shelf-life of 12 months (unopened storage) guarantee on the label attached to the container.

Where can HOCl be used?

Creches, pre-schools, schools, universities, surgeries, hospitals, clinics, reception areas, convention/wedding centres, airports, boardrooms, food factories, restaurants, hotels, gyms, sporting events, casinos, cinemas, taxi ranks, homes, frail care centres, retail shops, shopping centres, etc.

Various disinfectant application methods will be the subject of a follow-up discourse.



(#1) https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.bdj.2018.302

(#2) WHO Cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces in the context of COVID-19 – published 15 May 2020.

(#3) https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2-covid-19#filter_col1

(#4) https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/fdcc/?set=FCN&id=1811

(#5) Electrochemically activated solutions: evidence of antimicrobial efficacy and applications in healthcare environments RMS Thorn, SWH Lee, GM Robinson, J Greenman, DM Reynolds 13 April 2011 / accepted 15 July 2011

(#6) https://www.aquaox.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/HOCL-Risk-Assessment-Dr.-Ira-W-Daly.pdf

(#7)  Pure & Clean https://pureandclean.us/