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Hypochlorous Acid (HOCL), Natures Disinfectant

Fast Facts on Hypochlorous Acid

• Produced in your body and in all mammals for fighting bacteria and viruses
• No PPE (Personal Protective Equipmnet) required, category 4 toxicity by the EPA
• Listed as the highest-tier disinfectant by the EPA
• Used for new and emerging viruses (Monkey Pox and Covid-19)
• Highly effective against all common viruses and bacteria
• Food contact safe
• Used in eye drops, wound care, and common cleaners
• Made from salt, water, and electricity
• Approved for use in households, workplaces, schools, personal care homes, hospitals, and veterinary clinics

Hypochlorous Acid (HOCL) Diagram

The Uses of HOCL

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Food Contact Surfaces

Hypochlorous Acid is in the category of halogens, which is one of the most widely used disinfectants in the food industry1,2. This category includes all chlorine-based cleaners like bleach. Since Hypochlorous Acid can be generated in several levels of concentration, it can be used for a large range of surfaces. In concentrations below 200 ppm, the FDA has approved the disinfectant to be used for food contact surfaces, including but not limited to public eating establishments, food processing equipment, and utensils2.

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Wound Care

Several studies have been conducted to show the effectiveness of applying Hypochlorous Acid to open wounds to trigger faster healing and restoration of healthy tissue3. As this is naturally produced in the body to help fight infection, topically applying HOCL further assists the body in preventing and fighting off the infection. Unlike other disinfectants that can cause painful reactions and even cell damage, like hydrogen peroxide, HOCL does not have these same drawbacks.

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Residential and Industrial Use

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has approved the use of Hypochlorous Acid for a wide range of surfaces, which includes both residential and industrial settings. HOCL can be used to clean bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchens, desks, offices, production facilities, gyms, and many others.

What is Hypochlorous Acid?

Hypochlorous Acid (HOCL) is a disinfectant chemical and is known to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a high-level disinfectant4. High-Level disinfectants within the medical field are the go-to cleaning agents for healthcare facilities, medical equipment and dental devices. HOCL is widely used within the medical community as it is highly effective against several bacterial and viral pathogens. These pathogens include but are not limited to staphylococcus, E. coli, rhinoviruses, norovirus and Covid-195,6. HOCL has a wide range of uses from general surface disinfectants, mouth wash, hand sanitizer and even wound care.5

Hypochlorous Acid itself is a weak acid that forms when chlorine gas or salts dissolve in water1. On a molecular level, the chemical itself is made of hydrogen, oxygen and chlorine atoms. These atoms join to create Hypochlorous Acid by sharing electrons within their valence shells, this type of bonding is known as a covalent bond. These covalent bonds result in the atoms having complete valance shells, which then stabilize to create the final chemical of Hypochlorous Acid.

Is HOCL safe?

Hypochlorous Acid itself is classified as non-hazardous by the EPA. Several studies have been conducted on HOCL since it was first discovered in 1834. Since then, it has been found as a naturally occurring substance in all mammals as it is produced by the body’s own immune system7. HOCL is produced in the body as a response to injury or infection7, which helps destabilize foreign pathogens.

Further, Hypochlorous Acid has been approved for use on residential, industrial, medical, veterinary, and food contact surfaces. This has been determined to be safe and effective by several governing bodies like the EPA, CDC, and the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Applications have been submitted to add Hypochlorous Acid to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of essential medicines. This is due to its proven ability to fight infections, disinfect and prevent the spreading of new and emerging pathogens3.

In 2017 a study was conducted to determine the reduction in bacterial/viral load when Hypochlorous Acid was applied to the eyes. The study found that when applied to infected eyes in low concentrations, there was a reduction of over 99% of the harmful bacteria (staphylococcus and S. epidermidis)8

How does HOCL work?

The EPA has approved the use of Hypochlorous Acid for a wide range of surfaces, which includes both residential and industrial settings. HOCL can be used to clean bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchens, desks, offices, production facilities, gyms, and many others.

References Cited
  1. Mcelhatton A, Marshall R. Food Safety A Practical and Case Study Approach. Springer, 2007;
  2. FDA. Tolerance exemptions for active and inert ingredients for use in antimicrobial formulations (Food-contact surface sanitizing solutions) [Homepage on the Internet]. 2004 [cited 2022 Aug 27];Available from: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CFR-2005-title40-vol23/xml/CFR-2005-title40-vol23-sec180-940.xml
  3. Hypochlorous Acid (HOCl) for disinfection, antisepsis, and wound care in Core Categories 15.1, 15.2, and 13. 2020;
  4. High-Level Disinfectants – HSPS | NIOSH | CDC [Homepage on the Internet]. [cited 2022 Aug 27];Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/healthcarehsps/disinfect.html
  5. Nguyen K, Bui D, Hashemi M, et al. The Potential Use of Hypochlorous Acid and a Smart Prefabricated Sanitising Chamber to Reduce Occupation-Related COVID-19 Exposure. 2021;Available from: http://doi.org/10.2147/RMHP.S284897
  6. Chemical Disinfectants | Disinfection & Sterilization Guidelines | Guidelines Library | Infection Control | CDC [Homepage on the Internet]. [cited 2022 Aug 27];Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/infectioncontrol/guidelines/disinfection/disinfection-methods/chemical.html
  7. Block MS, Rowan BG. Hypochlorous Acid: A Review. Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. 2020;78(9):1461–1466.
  8. Stroman DW, Mintun K, Epstein AB, et al. Clinical Ophthalmology Dovepress reduction in bacterial load using hypochlorous acid hygiene solution on ocular skin. Clinical Ophthalmology [homepage on the Internet] 2017 [cited 2022 Aug 27];11–707. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/OPTH.S132851
  9. Advanced Cleaning Mechanisms: Oxidation – TechNotes – Critical Cleaning Advice from Alconox Inc. [Homepage on the Internet]. [cited 2022 Aug 27];Available from: https://technotes.alconox.com/detergents/tergazyme/advanced-cleaning-mechanisms-oxidation/ 
  10. What is Chlorination? — Safe Drinking Water Foundation [Homepage on the Internet]. [cited 2022 Aug 27];Available from: https://www.safewater.org/fact-sheets-1/2017/1/23/what-is-chlorination 
  11. Disinfectants for Emerging Viral Pathogens (EVPs): List Q | US EPA [Homepage on the Internet]. [cited 2022 Aug 27];Available from: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/disinfectants-emerging-viral-pathogens-evps-list-q#evps
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