Comparative efficacy of handwashing agents against cytomegalovirus

Infect Control. 1987 Apr;8(4):158-62. doi: 10.1017/s0195941700065826.


Conscientious handwashing is often recommended as an important method for limiting transmission of cytomegalovirus (CMV) from infected individuals to health, education, and child care professionals. To assess the efficacy of handwashing, fingertips of radiation-sterilized latex gloves were inoculated with 0.2 mL of ten different CMV strains. Virus in each inoculum was quantitated by plaque assay. After five minutes, viral inocula were allowed to remain (control), or were washed away by dropwise application of 10 mL of distilled water (DI), 5 mL of 0.08% soap followed by 5 mL of DI, 5 mL of 0.01% chlorhexidine gluconate followed by 5 mL of DI, or 5 mL of 0.025% povidone-iodine solution followed by 5 mL of DI. Separate glove fingertips were sampled 5, 15, 30, 60, 120 and 240 minutes after washing and cultured in duplicate for CMV. Similar studies were performed using human cadaver skin. Ordinary soap was as effective at preventing CMV recovery as other more expensive agents. For inocula with less than 5 log10 pfu CMV/mL, washing with water alone was as effective as other agents. This was confirmed in similar studies with human hands using five CMV stains. Handwashing is probably an effective method for removing CMV from contaminated hands.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chlorhexidine / pharmacology*
  • Cytomegalovirus / drug effects*
  • Cytomegalovirus / isolation & purification
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / prevention & control
  • Fibroblasts
  • Hand Disinfection*
  • Humans
  • Povidone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Povidone-Iodine / pharmacology*
  • Soaps / pharmacology*
  • Surface-Active Agents / pharmacology*


  • Soaps
  • Surface-Active Agents
  • Povidone-Iodine
  • Povidone
  • Chlorhexidine