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Will gargling wash the virus away?

April 13: MIT Medical answers your COVID-19 questions. Got a question about COVID-19? Send it to us at CovidQ@mit.edu, and we’ll do our best to provide an answer.

I’ve gotten the following advice about preventing COVID-19: “You should be gargling with warm water with salt or a vinegar solution twice a day. It helps keep the virus and other things from traveling from your throat to the lungs.”

Is this good advice and something a medical professional would endorse or recommend?

No. While this claim has spread widely on social media, there is no evidence that gargling warm water with salt or a vinegar solution prevents infection with COVID-19. Interestingly, this “cure” was popular during the spread of SARS, MERS, and Zika as well — and was equally useless then.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends gargling with warm salty water as one way to soothe a sore throat, it won’t work to stop infection with COVID-19 or any other virus.

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