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Hypochlorous Acid: The Better Disinfectant

Last Updated on: December 16, 2021

older woman cleaning cupboards with the echo clean

Most commercial and industrial cleaners today are full of harmful chemicals, but hypochlorous acid is emerging as a better, cleaner, and safer disinfectant.

Cleaning is a part of everyday life. Whether you are trying to wipe away dirt and grime or want to keep germs from getting you or your family sick, it’s important to have an all-purpose cleaner that works. Most cleaners today are full of nasty chemicals that pose a threat to your health — even if they do kill all the germs.

If you want a new way to clean your home, you should seriously consider hypochlorous acid. In this post, we will review an article that summarizes what hypochlorous acid is, what its benefits are, and why you need it in your home.

Article Overview

“Hypochlorous Acid (HOCl) for disinfection, antisepsis, and wound care in Core Categories 15.1, 15.2, and 13” is an article submitted in favor of adding hypochlorous acid (HOCl) to the 2021 World Health Organization Essential Medicines List as a way of disclosing the compound’s main properties as a disinfectant, antiseptic, and wound-care product.

To support its request, this article outlines various agency approvals for the use of HOCl, as well as the compound’s strengths and uses in both individual medicine and commercial treatment. It provides a list of study summaries that support the claim that hypochlorous acid can be used as an effective disinfectant and product for antisepsis and wound care.

hypchlorous acid cleaning the shower
Hypochlorous acid is a chlorine solution that is FDA-approved as a disinfectant more powerful than bleach.

What Is Hypochlorous Acid?

Hypochlorous acid is a chlorine compound made up of hydrogen, oxygen, and chlorine. (1) It is a natural compound that our bodies make, and it is also a powerful disinfecting and sanitizing solution. (2, 3) Hypochlorous acid solutions have liquid, solid, or powdered sodium or calcium hypochlorite. When dissolved in water, these compounds create a diluted chlorine solution where hypochlorous acid is the main active antimicrobial ingredient. (3)

Hypochlorous acid was first manufactured before World War I, but manufacturing a purer form of HOCl proved too expensive in the 1970s. Today, however, we have new production methods that make it easy and inexpensive to produce pure, authentic, and stable hypochlorous acid in large quantities. (3)

A Government-Approved Cleaner

Hypochlorous acid has been evaluated by regulatory agencies, professional organizations, healthcare institutions, academic institutes, and independent labs in over 50 different countries throughout the last century, and it has had consistent positive results as a safe and effective disinfectant. As a result, it has been approved by a variety of government agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has approved hypochlorous acid as a no-rinse sanitizer on meat, fish and other seafood, fruit, vegetables, and poultry. It is approved as a disinfectant on food-contact surfaces like dairy processing equipment, public eating areas, utensils, and food-processing equipment. Plus, the FDA has also approved more than 10 brands of hypochlorous acid formulations for topical wound care, as well as for the disinfection and sterilization of medical instruments. (3)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also approved the use of hypochlorous acid as a no-rinse food sanitizer, and it is already listed on the EPA’s “N” list of disinfecting agents. In addition, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved hypochlorous acid as an organic substance. Outside of the United States, other governments, including Canada and Australia, have also approved the use of hypochlorous acid as a disinfectant. (3)

Characteristics of Hypochlorous Acid

HOCl has many different characteristics that make it not only effective but also appealing to many different markets and industries. Hypochlorous acid (3):

  • Is very easy to use.
  • Costs very little to make.
  • Can effectively and quickly disinfect large areas.
  • Is capable of killing a wide range of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
  • Can tolerate extreme temperatures and is unaffected by shock or vibrations, which makes it safe for long-term storage.
  • Does not cause eye or skin irritation or systemic toxicity.
  • Becomes highly reactive when exposed to pathogens.
  • Degrades to salt and water, making it completely eco-friendly and safe to dispose of.
  • Requires no personal protective equipment to handle.
  • Can kill pathogens that have become resistant to other disinfectants.
  • Does not stain or discolor surfaces.
  • Helps control odor.
  • Is not explosive or flammable.

Hypochlorous Acid for Wound Care

The FDA has already approved more than 10 different brands of hypochlorous acid as a method of topical wound treatment, and there are several studies that support this particular use of HOCl. Hypochlorous acid is a natural compound that the body makes as part of its first line of defense against infections and injuries. Phagocytes within the body produce it on demand and, as a result, hypochlorous acid rapidly attacks infectious microorganisms, including viruses and bacteria. (3)

The end products of hypochlorous acid reactions also play a huge role in wound healing as they react with surrounding tissue. They initiate and produce a variety of beneficial effects on various processes needed to improve the body’s healing efforts. Some of these processes include promoting local coagulation to help seal off damaged tissue, growth of new endothelial cells, and faster migration of replacement skin cells to the damaged area. (3)

In various studies, researchers found that certain antiseptics, including povidone iodine, actually inhibit many of these processes that the body needs to heal properly. When applied to wounds, these antiseptics can actually be toxic to cells. (3)

As researchers study the healing effects of hypochlorous acid, many agree that topical HOCl can improve the healing process for a wide range of wounds, from minor cuts and scrapes to traumatic injury, severe burns, and diabetic infections. (3)

One study compared the wound-healing efficacy of hypochlorous acid with that of povidone iodine. The results showed that by day 14, patients experienced no pain, odor, or discharge when treated with hypochlorous acid, whereas only up to 16% of patients in the iodine group experienced those results. In addition, hypochlorous acid dramatically reduced bacterial count, and wounds were ready for surgical construction by day 14, whereas no one in the iodine group was ready. This supports the claim that hypochlorous acid is an effective, easy to use, and safe treatment for wounds, as it quickly helps relieve pain while preparing the skin for further treatment and enhancing the natural wound-healing process. (3)

Another study found that dressing wounds in HOCl reduced the size of infected diabetic ulcers. A third study found that hypochlorous acid-soaked dressings reduced wound induration (abnormal thickness or firmness), which supports the fact that hypochlorous acid does not harm cellular elements or circulation within a wound. (3)

Additional studies show that hypochlorous acid completely healed venous leg ulcers within 180 days, reduced odor 100% in infected diabetic foot ulcerations, reduced the size of diabetic foot ulcers by 70% in 21 days, and more. In short, hypochlorous acid has proved again and again that it is an effective wound-care product that is superior to traditional products like povidone iodine. (3)

older woman cleaning with hypochlorous acid
Studies show that hypochlorous acid can support proper wound healing while also reducing the risk of infection or sepsis.

Hypochlorous Acid for Antisepsis

Sepsis is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition where the body’s response to an infection damages its own tissue. (4) Infected wounds are becoming more common due to organisms becoming more resistant to antibiotics; however, hypochlorous acid has been shown to discourage antibiotic resistance. Research has found that hypochlorous acid “offers an unequaled combination of [both] antimicrobial efficacy against all the common bacteria and yeasts/fungi that infect wounds” and a convincing record of improving the healing rate of wounds. (3)

To support this claim, the Cantacuzino Institute in Romania tested kill time and reduction of various infection-causing bacteria when exposed to hypochlorous acid. Results showed that hypochlorous acid has a 99.99% reduction rate for Escherichia coli, Enterococcus, Pseudomonas, and Staphylococcus aureus within 30 seconds. The Functional Water Association of Japan also found that hypochlorous acid at 40 ppm completely killed Staphylococcus aureus, MRSA, the influenza virus, Salmonella enteritidis, Candida albicans, and more in just 10 seconds. (3)

One study compared hypochlorous acid to other cleaners and their efficacy in disrupting Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms (slimy bacteria films that stick to surfaces). Results showed that hypochlorous acid neutralized both biofilms and was considerably less toxic to cells. This suggests that hypochlorous acid can help treat wounds that have biofilms, and thus reduce the risk of sepsis. (3)

Hypochlorous Acid for Disinfecting

Perhaps one of the most well-known uses of hypochlorous acid is as a powerful disinfectant. Hypochlorous acid is often used as an environmental disinfectant, and it has been used on a large scale to disinfect enclosed spaces in healthcare facilities and institutions. (3)

While it is comparable to bleach and peroxide, hypochlorous acid is considerably more effective and less toxic. A comparative study found that hypochlorous acid killed E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus in under a minute, while bleach took under 10 minutes and hydrogen peroxide took more than 90 minutes. Other studies have also found that some pathogens that are resistant to well-known disinfectants are still susceptible to hypochlorous acid. (3)

One study tested how hypochlorous acid can disinfect and decontaminate natural-disaster response areas, displacement camps, conflict zones, and slums. The results show that HOCl is extremely potent against bacteria, viruses, fungi, endospores, and infectious proteins called prions. In fact, hypochlorous acid is so potent that the FDA regards it as the most effective form of chlorine-based antimicrobial compounds available. When researchers used hypochlorous acid to disinfect hospitals, clinics, refugee camps, and tents, they found that it helped to significantly reduce the amount of pathogens. (3)

Another study also found that hypochlorous acid can inactivate bacteria, viruses, prions, fungi, and endospores, all while being safe for human tissue. It also supports the claim that HOCl is environmentally safe and does not require toxic waste disposal or protective gear, as one would need when handling hazardous material. (3)

woman cleaning her bathroom with the echo clean
The Echo Clean™ produces hypochlorous acid for a safe, chemical-free cleaner that you can use around your home.

Cleaning Your Home With Hypochlorous Acid

Step up your cleaning game and experience the disinfecting power of hypochlorous acid with the Echo Clean™! The Echo Clean™ is a hand-held spray bottle that uses electrolysis to turn water and salt into hypochlorous acid. In addition to producing hypochlorous acid, the Echo Clean™ also produces sodium hypochlorite at the same time. Sodium hypochlorite is the active ingredient in bleach, and it is another powerful cleaner that can help keep your home germ-free.

By adding salt and water to the Echo Clean™ and simply pushing a button, you can create hypochlorous acid right in your home. As a result, you can clean countertops, toys, toilets, and anything else in your home without using toxic chemicals.

So let the Echo Clean™ do your dirty work. With the help of hypochlorous acid, this single-bottle cleaner makes it easy for you to eliminate chemical-filled cleaners, save hundreds of dollars a year, reduce plastic waste, and keep your home — and family — germ-free.

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