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Salt Water Gargle for Coronavirus: Is it Effective?

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 04/13/2020

Curious about whether a salt water gargle is effective against the coronavirus? While there has yet to be any research done to back up this home remedy technique, there might just be some merit to it. Let’s take a look at the benefits of gargling salt water and why it might help protect against viruses.

In this article, I will cover:

Young woman gargling wearing blue scarf holds hand to throat and glass cup, salt water gargle.


Potential benefits of a salt water gargle for viruses

There are several reasons to consider salt water gargling as an antiviral strategy. Here are two of the possible reasons why this home remedy might help fight viruses like coronavirus:

Gargling with saltwater or just water would theoretically dilute the concentration of viruses during this viral shedding and spreading process.

  • Dilutes concentration of viruses in viral shedding. There is some research that shows that the coronavirus can replicate in your throat before moving into your lungs. There is an especially high rate of replication and “viral shedding” during the first week. When a virus goes into a cell and starts to reproduce, at some point it will leave that cell to go elsewhere; this is called viral shedding.

Gargling with saltwater or just water would theoretically dilute the concentration of viruses during this viral shedding and spreading process.

  • Boosts hypochlorous acid, an antiviral chemical. In the presence of salt (sodium chloride or NaCl), there are certain enzymes in the skin lining inside our body that can convert chloride into hypochlorous acid.


Hypochlorous acid is the active ingredient in bleach that has strong antimicrobial powers. Certain immune cells like phagocytes eat up viruses, bacteria, dead cells, and other harmful substances in our body. They pull them in and expose them to hypochlorous acid and other agents to kill off the microbes. Hypochlorous acid has a broad antiviral range and is thought to work against a variety of different virus types.

Basically, by gargling saltwater, you are giving your immune system the raw material it needs to make one of its powerful antiviral weapons.

Black and white illustration of antiviral defense – icons of bacteria and viruses and stop symbol.

So how does gargling salt water help? As you can see, gargling may dilute virus concentration and mitigate the effects of viral shedding. And it might also help give our immune system the materials it needs to produce antiviral chemicals like hypochlorous acid.

But does it really work? Are there any studies to back up this potential natural remedy?


What does the research say?

So far, there are no studies to confirm that gargling with saltwater will kill the coronavirus.

That being said, there is some research that suggests that saltwater gargles could potentially prevent some viruses from going down into the lung.

Cartoon drawing of man in suit holding shield and sword fighting viruses, immune system defense.

There are several studies about the benefits of gargling salt water that are worth looking into:

  1. One study involved 130 people who gargled with just plain water. The results suggested that gargling with water was effective in preventing upper respiratory tract infections in healthy people.
  2. Another study in 20,000 Japanese children found no outbreaks of influenza, fever, or infections during the process of the study.
  3. In 2010, a study found that washing your throat with saltwater could be considered the most effective measure for preventing upper respiratory infections.
  4. A 2013 study on 338 people found that people using salt water were less likely to get upper respiratory tract infections.

While not definitive and not specific to the coronavirus, these results are promising and point to the possibility that salt water gargles may be useful in fighting off viruses and infections.

To learn more about this research and read the study results for yourself, click on the links below in the references section.


How to do a salt water gargle

Glass cup of water with spoon, spoon of salt next to it, how to do a salt water gargle.

If you want to give salt water gargling a try for yourself, it is incredibly easy to do – not to mention completely inexpensive.

Here’s how to gargle salt water:

Dissolve ½ teaspoon of salt in an 8 oz. glass of warm water. Gargle the mixture in your mouth and throat a few times per day.

I recommend using sea salt as the best salt to gargle with (especially Himalayan sea salt), but any salt can work.



There isn’t yet any data that can tell us whether salt water gargles are effective in preventing the coronavirus. However, I think it is a very good thing to do to support your body and boost your immune defenses, and it could potentially help keep you healthy.

It certainly can’t hurt, and it is both inexpensive and easy to try. The technique is so simple: simply take salt dissolved in water and gargle with it a few times per day.

Close-up of man gargling water in his mouth, holding water in glass.

For more information on potential natural remedies for the coronavirus, go here.

Have you ever used a warm salt water gargle? What are your thoughts and experiences? Share with us in the comments section below.


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Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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