Plant power: Alcohol-free disinfectant uses lemon bush and chamomile to help kill COVID-19 virus

By Amanda Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

ViroCLEAR is an alcohol-free disinfectant that uses native plant extracts, which it claims can help kill the COVID-19 virus within 90 seconds. [ViroCLEAR]
ViroCLEAR is an alcohol-free disinfectant that uses native plant extracts, which it claims can help kill the COVID-19 virus within 90 seconds. [ViroCLEAR]

Related tags: hand sanitisers, COVID-19, Natural ingredients

An Australian firm has developed an alcohol-free disinfectant that uses native plant extracts, which it claims can help kill the COVID-19 virus within 90 seconds without damaging even the most sensitive skin.

ViroCLEAR was developed by BioInnovate chairperson Ross Macdougald, who is also the founder of Australian cosmeceutical skin care brand, Biologi.

According to the firm, the formula is a ‘world’s first’. It is a non-toxic, non-irritant and alcohol-free formula that kills germs, bacteria and COVID-19 in 90 seconds – seven times faster than other products on the market.

“ViroCLEAR has been laboratory-proven to kill COVID-19 within 90 seconds of surface contact. Many other surface spray disinfectants may take up to 10 minutes or longer to kill COVID-19 and some have not been proven to kill COVID-19 at all,”​ said Macdougald.

Macdougald added ViroCLEAR’s rapid kill time was a crucial advantage. “To put this in perspective, if you’re using a trolley at a supermarket that has just been wiped down, a kill time of 10 minutes or longer is not ideal.”

The key to the formula is the use of lemon bush and chamomile. These native plant extracts contain compounds that help to boost the efficacy of the killing agent, Benzalkonium Chloride.  

According to Macdougald, these plant extracts are used to “attract the virus to the killing agent”.

“ViroCLEAR uses unique BioInnovate technology to effectively ‘supercharge’ the active ingredient. This means it is able to kill COVID-19 within 90 seconds of surface contact with levels of active ingredient that are both non-toxic and non-irritant, unlike many other products.”

This allows the use of Benzalkonium Chloride at a percentage lower than its toxicity and irritancy potential, eliminating the typical side effects of alcohol-based sanitisers such as dry, irritated skin.

“Prolonged use of alcohol or ethanol-based products may be drying or irritating to sensitive skin. The ViroCLEAR formulation uses native plant extracts rather than alcohol or ethanol to boost the efficacy of its active ingredient. This means you don’t get the potentially drying or irritating effects that may be associated with prolonged use of some other products,” ​said Macdougald.

He highlighted that was especially relevant for organisations such as aged-care or health facilities, schools, universities and hospitality venues, where people regularly use surface disinfectants or hand sanitisers.

Rolling out soon

Macdougald said the breakthrough was achieved after exhaustive research and ViroCLEAR was fast-tracked for approval by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) last month.

“ViroCLEAR is so effective it has been approved by the TGA and is certified to the rigorous ‘hospital grade’ standard. It really is laboratory proven protection you can trust.”

Production of ViroCLEAR began in Melbourne in the first week of March and distribution is expected to begin within the month.

The company is aiming to make it available as both a surface disinfectant and hand sanitiser to 5.5 million Australians in schools, universities, aged-care homes and hospitality venues as a priority through March.

The product will be available to the broader community as early as the end of the month, and the rest of the world this year.

“We expect to be in a position to export ViroCLEAR to the United States, Asia and Europe by mid-year, to complement the widespread global vaccination rollout,” ​Macdougald said.

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