Can a UV Sanitizer Help to Kill Covid? Here’s What You Need to Know

According to the FDA, the use of UV light could help reduce harmful germs and bacteria on high-touch surfaces and objects.


The efficacy of a good face mask has been well-proven to help prevent the spread of the Covid, but as cases continue to persist across the country, people are looking for other methods to help contain the virus. From shoe covers to HEPA air purifiers, the rise of protective gear and equipment has been well-documented. The latest item that people are stocking up on: UV sanitizers.

According to the FDA, a strong source of UV light could help reduce harmful germs and bacteria on surfaces (think everything from furniture to bedding) and help disinfect high-touch items, like your cell phone, wallet and keys. Here’s what you need to know about how UV light works against Covid.

Does UV Light Kill the Coronavirus?

Everyone from hospital workers to office janitors have been using UV light for years to help sterilize objects and surfaces. Now, the FDA says certain forms of UV light could be effective against the coronavirus.

According to the agency, UVC radiation is a “known disinfectant for air, water, and nonporous surfaces” and “UVC radiation has effectively been used for decades to reduce the spread of bacteria, such as tuberculosis.” New research says UVC radiation may now also be effective in inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the virus that causes coronavirus.

Keep in mind, research into how UV light works against Covid is still on-going, and the agency cautions that UVC “cannot inactivate a virus or bacterium if it is not directly exposed to UVC.” In other words, the virus or bacterium will not be inactivated if it is covered, whether by dust or soil, or say, under a phone case, groove or crack.

And while the CDC refers to UV sanitizers as an “alternative disinfection method,” they note that there are a ton of new UV sanitizing devices on the market which the agency has not had time to properly vet and review just yet. When shopping for the best UV sanitizer to use for Covid, you’ll want to carefully read over the manufacturer’s claims and offerings before deciding on the best UV sanitizing device for you.

A final reminder from the EPA: “Covid-19” refers to a disease, and diseases cannot be “killed.” Therefore, any claim that a UV sanitizer “kills Covid-19” is always considered false and misleading.

How Do UV Sanitizers Work?

The best UV sanitizers work by using direct rays of UV light to kill germs and bacteria. When it comes to using UV light against the coronavirus, the FDA says UV light works to quickly destroy the outer protein coating of the virus, which then knocks out the virus’ effectiveness.

UV sanitizers come in various forms, from UV sanitizing wands, to sanitizing cases, to UVC lamps (often called “germicidal” lamps). The type of UV sanitizer you choose will depend on what you’re trying to disinfect and the amount of space you have available. 

As mentioned earlier, a good UV sanitizer will only work through direct exposure. So UVC radiation can only inactivate a virus if the virus is directly exposed to the UV rays. The effectiveness of an UV sanitizer also depends on the dose and duration of the device. As the FDA says, most UVC lamps sold for home use are of low dose, “so it may take longer exposure to a given surface area to potentially provide effective inactivation of a bacteria or virus.”

UVA vs. UVB vs. UVC Rays

A final note: it’s important to discern the difference between the different types of UV rays. The effectiveness of UVA vs. UVB vs. UVC rays will vary when it comes to fighting the coronavirus.

According to the FDA, UVA or UVB rays (the kind of ultraviolet rays you get from the sun, for example), aren’t as effective as UVC rays. As you’re probably well-aware, UVA and UVB rays are also more harmful to humans, since prolonged exposure can lead to skin damage, aging and risks of cancer (it’s the reason why dermatologists always recommend wearing a good sunscreen).

When it comes to inactivating viruses, UV sanitizers using UVC rays are the best choice for now.

Source: Best UV Sanitizers for Covid-19: Does UV Light Kill the Coronavirus? - Rolling Stone

Image by Delwar Hussain Shakil from Pixabay