Antiviral Natural Products, Their Mechanisms of Action and Potential Applications as Sanitizers and Disinfectants

Stephanie A. Boone*, M. Khalid Ijaz, Kelly R. Bright, Norma Patricia Silva-Beltran, Raymond W. Nims, Julie McKinney, Charles P. Gerba

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Plant extracts, natural products and plant oils contain natural virucidal actives that can be used to replace active ingredients in commercial sanitizers and disinfectants. This review focuses on the virucidal mechanisms of natural substances that may exhibit potential for indoor air and fomite disinfection. Review of scientific studies indicates: (1) most natural product studies use crude extracts and do not isolate or identify exact active antiviral substances; (2) many natural product studies contain unclear explanations of virucidal mechanisms of action; (3) natural product evaluations of virucidal activity should include methods that validate efficacy under standardized disinfectant testing procedures (e.g., carrier tests on applicable surfaces or activity against aerosolized viruses, etc.). The development of natural product disinfectants requires a better understanding of the mechanisms of action (MOA), chemical profiles, compound specificities, activity spectra, and the chemical formulations required for maximum activity. Combinations of natural antiviral substances and possibly the addition of synthetic compounds might be needed to increase inactivation of a broader spectrum of viruses, thereby providing the required efficacy for surface and air disinfection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-280
Number of pages16
JournalFood and Environmental Virology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply.


  • Antiviral
  • Disinfectants
  • Mechanism of action
  • Natural plant products
  • Sanitizers
  • Viruses


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