Mostly False: “Gargles with warm water, salt or vinegar eliminate corona virus”

by Marina Marcondes

A supposed coronavirus prevention formula was circulating in the internet in previous weeks. According to the text, shared on the WhatsApp platform by Brazilian users, gargling with water, salt and vinegar is sufficient to eliminate the virus from the person’s throat, where it “stays for four days before going to her lung” (data given by the same text message). This mixture, supposedly, will prevent the virus from reaching the lungs and prevent critical medical problems caused by this infection.

In this case, the message came along with an audio, where an unidentified woman, speaking Portuguese, appears recommending the use of the mixture and reaffirming the information present on the text

This information is false.

Message in Portuguese:

“O Corona vírus, antes de alcançar o pulmão ele permanece na garganta por 4 dias, esse é o tempo que a pessoa começa a tossir e ter dor na garganta. Se ela tomar muita água e gargarejo com água morna, sal ou vinagre o vírus é eliminado. Espalhe está informação porque você pode salvar alguém com está informação.”


“The Corona virus, before reaching the lungs, it remains in the throat for 4 days, this is the time where the person start to cough and have pain in the throat. If she drinks a lot of water and gargles with warm water, salt or vinegar, the virus is eliminated. Spread this information because you can save someone with this.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) denied the information present in the text. According to specialists, the corona virus can cause a dry cough and sore throat, but that does not mean that the virus is housed in that particular location.

As for the mixture, scientists says that it will not be effective in combating the corona virus, since its main elements have had no proven effect on the virus. However, it can be used in case of discomfort in the throat, an effect of the infection.

“Gargling can be good to help relieve cough, but saying that warm water, salt and vinegar eliminates the virus is a big nonsense,” said Leonardo Weissmann, an infectious disease physician and consultant at the Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases, in an interview for the news vehicle G1.

Too easy to be true

One reason the message went viral is, according to virologist Rômulo Neris, that people got their minds focused on the symptom, which is, in fact, the pain in the throat because of cough. However, the assumption that the homemade mix was efficient enough to save infected people was completely wrong. “For the person to be experiencing the symptoms, it is because they already have the virus in multiple parts of the airways. There is no indication that the gargle with is able to eliminate the virus.”

WHO say that the message is meaningless. They reinforce that saline solutions used to wash the nose do not help prevent this disease. “There is limited evidence that washing your nose regularly with saline can help people recover more quickly from common colds, but this has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections.”


We conclude that the claim is ‘Mostly False’. Different health organizations have already denied the efficacy of this mixture against the corona virus. Also, specialists explained that the virus doesn’t stay in the throat, the pain in this part of the body is merely a symptom of the infection. 

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