Coronavirus cleaners: Do they exist?

It is known from the latest media reports that degreasing cleaners, so-called surfactant cleaners, are at the forefront in surface cleaning when it comes to viruses such as the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

To help you find your way through the jungle of corona information, we are getting to the heart of our knowledge about degreasing cleaners – for your safety!

Why is a surfactant cleaner a coronavirus cleaner?

Surfactants are detergent substances contained in soaps, washing powders, washing-up liquids and hair shampoos. They have the effect that two liquids that are actually not mixable with each other, such as oil and water, can be mixed. This means that the solubility of fatty particles (on the hands, in the laundry, on dishes, in the hair) in water is increased.

Industrial surfactant cleaners for the cleaning of industrial surfaces such as workshop floors, machinery, equipment and machine parts work in the same way.


Corona Cleaner


To put it simply: Surfactant cleaners dissolve grease. 

The following happens due to

This is because the SARS-CoV-2 virus is an enveloped virus. Its protective envelope is also its weak point, because it consists of a fat membrane.  the grease-dissolving property of surfactant cleaners: The fat-loving part of the surfactant molecules binds with the virus envelope (fat membrane/lipid membrane) and can tear it apart – then the virus breaks down. 

Do all surfactant cleaners work in the same way?

Rainer Moryäner, Entwicklung/Produktsicherheit Bio-Circle Surface Technology GmbH“Surfactant is surfactant! At least if one starts from the basic structure, every surfactant has a hydrophilic and a hydrophobic part. But if you go into detail, there are many different surfactants (anionic, cationic, amphoteric or non-ionic).

The performance and effect of a cleaner depends on the choice and combination of surfactants, e.g. whether it is creeping, foaming, particularly good at degreasing or suitable for sensitive surfaces.” 

Rainer Moryäner, Entwicklung/Produktsicherheit Bio-Circle Surface Technology GmbH


In the industry, the requirements are different and higher than in the household, therefore the combinations of surfactants in the industrial cleaners are adapted to the requirements. 

Household surfactants:

hygienic and safe cleaning of dishes from fat and food residues

  • A small quantity of non-ionic surfactants for dissolving fats
  • Amphoteric surfactants for skin-friendliness and long-lasting foam floating on the dishwater

hygienic and safe hand cleaning

  • Soap bars: anionic surfactants for stability at room temperature
  • In liquid soaps: amphoteric surfactants for skin-friendliness

Industrial surfactant cleaners:

a guarantor for high efficiency in cleaning various types of dirt from different surfaces and materials. Particularly in the maintenance of machines and plants, water-based surfactant cleaners increase work safety. 

  • Larger proportion of non-ionic surfactants for dissolving fat
  • Special non-ionic surfactants for the creeping effect, so that the cleaner achieves optimum cleaning performance even in difficult geometries 
  • Cationic surfactants which, due to their different polarity, achieve the best cleaning performance on specially treated surfaces
  • Special low-foaming non-ionic surfactants for mechanical application at low temperatures
  • Amphoteric surfactants, which are particularly good at removing dust from components

Coraona-Virus cleaner applications

The survival of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on surfaces

The fact that the SARS-CoV-2 virus remains stable on surfaces was proven in a study by scientists from the USA. Their letter about this study was published on the website of the New England Journal of Medicine on 17 March 2020. The results of the study give reason to believe that there is a risk of becoming infected via infected surfaces because the virus can enter the body via the hands and the face: 

“We evaluated the stability of SARS-CoV-2 (…) in aerosols and on various surfaces. (…) SARS-CoV-2 was more stable on plastic and stainless steel than on copper and cardboard, and viable virus was detected up to 72 hours after application to these surfaces (…).” 

(Source: New England Journal of Medicine)

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) also refers to the above study in its Technical Report of 26 March 2020. The report deals with the disinfection of healthcare premises, etc. that may be contaminated with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

ECDC Technical Report: Disinfection of environments in healthcare and non-healthcare settings potentially contaminated with SARS-CoV-2


What should you clean to protect yourself?

To protect you and your environment as much as possible right now, you should pay particular attention to hygiene at work, at home, in public places and on public transport. Therefore, clean the following areas well and regularly with degreasing cleaners:

  • In general: door handles, light switches, tables, chairs, kitchen surfaces, washbasins, toilet covers, bathroom fittings
  • At your workplaceoffice: Keyboards, mice, telephone receivers, door handles, stair handrails, light switches, carpets, upholstery, sanitary facilities, kitchen surfaces (in canteens)
  • At your workplacetransportation: Handles, brackets, driver cockpit, sanitary facilities etc.
  • At your workplaceindustry/production: Forklift trucks, machine knobs, joysticks, handles, kitchen surfaces (in canteens), cupboards, lockers, driver's cabs, workshop floors, tools, machines, machine parts, sanitary equipment, etc.
  • Surfaces in humid environment


FYI: Alcohol-based disinfectants have a similar effect to surfactant cleaners. They remove the coronavirus, but not the dirt. Therefore, they cannot replace cleaners.

Cleaning is important!

Carefree working – not only in times of crisis

By using

  • surfactants of vegetable origin, with high and rapid biodegradability, and
  • carefully selected, resource-saving raw materials,

Bio-Circle has been setting an example as a manufacturer for three decades with water-based cleaners –- for you and for the environment.