Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Health care workers with the UNLV School of Medicine wait in personal protective equipment for patients at a drive thru coronavirus testing site on March 24, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP) Health care workers with the UNLV School of Medicine wait in personal protective equipment for patients at a drive thru coronavirus testing site on March 24, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP)

Health care workers with the UNLV School of Medicine wait in personal protective equipment for patients at a drive thru coronavirus testing site on March 24, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP)

Daniel Funke
By Daniel Funke March 26, 2020

If Your Time is short

  • From vitamin C and lemon juice to marijuana and chloroquine, there are a lot of false COVID-19 treatment and prevention methods on social media.

  • As of now, there is no specific treatment or cure for the novel coronavirus. Patients are advised to drink fluids, get rest, and take cough medicine and fever relievers as needed.

  • To avoid contracting the coronavirus, health officials advise people to wash their hands regularly, avoid touching their face and disinfect surfaces in their home daily.

There is no known treatment or cure for COVID-19, but some people are hitting their pantry to create their own false remedies.

Since January, we’ve fact-checked more than 100 claims about the coronavirus pandemic, the majority of which are inaccurate or misleading. From taking large amounts of vitamin C to drinking silver solution, some of the most widespread misinformation has been about how to fend off new infections — and it ignores guidance from public health officials.

The best ways to avoid the novel coronavirus remain to wash your hands with soap and water, avoid touching your face, disinfect surfaces in your home daily, and avoid people who are sick. And according to the Mayo Clinic, COVID-19 patients with mild cases can alleviate symptoms with cough medicine, pain and fever relievers, rest and fluids.

In the absence of a known cure, online misinformation has flourished. So we rounded up 19 claims about how to treat and prevent the coronavirus that we’ve rated False or Pants on Fire! If you see something else you want fact-checked, send it to [email protected].

1. Gargling with salt water

Neither drinking a lot of water, nor gargling with warm water and salt or vinegar, has been identified as working against the coronavirus. It might, however, help your sore throat. Read the fact-check

2. Slow it down with quick hits of Vitamin C

While vitamin C may slightly help ward off common illnesses, there is no evidence high doses of the supplement can slow or stop the current coronavirus. Read the fact-check

3. Breathe in steam from water boiled with orange peels and cayenne pepper

Clearing out your sinuses will definitely not make you less likely to catch COVID-19 — or cure you if you are sick. And there’s no evidence that orange peels or cayenne contain any healing properties, either. Read the fact-check

4. Drink water to kill the virus

While health experts recommend drinking water regularly to stay healthy, there is no evidence that sipping some every 15 or 20 minutes can help prevent coronavirus infection. The primary way the virus spreads is through close contact with infected people and respiratory droplets. Read the fact-check

5. Go outside and lie in the sun

There’s evidence that human coronaviruses don’t like heat, and high-intensity UV light can kill viruses, but that doesn’t mean sun exposure kills the coronavirus. Neither the WHO nor the CDC has said it’s effective against the virus. Read the fact-check

6. Drink hot water with lemon slices

While health officials recommend eating plenty of fruits and vegetables to stay healthy, there is no evidence that drinking hot lemon juice kills COVID-19. A similar version of the hoax has been shared in India and Italy. Read the fact-check

RELATED: Stop sharing myths about preventing the coronavirus. Here are 4 real ways to protect yourself

7. Take chloroquine fish-tank cleaner

Fish-tank cleaners containing chloroquine cannot be substituted for prescription drugs used to treat malaria. The FDA says you should not take chloroquine unless it has been prescribed by a doctor and obtained from a legitimate source. Read the fact-check

8. Drink silver solution

There are no pills or remedies that cure any strain of human coronavirus including COVID-19. In fact, "silver solution" and colloidal silver can hurt you, and not just your wallet. The Food and Drug Administration has issued warning statements to companies promoting the products. Read the fact-check

9. Hang up clothes in the sun

While air-drying your clothes may save you some money on your electricity bill, there is no evidence it will kill the coronavirus. Experts told us natural sunlight doesn’t provide the UV intensity needed to kill the virus, and the WHO says it can be transmitted in all climates. Read the fact-check

10. Avoid consuming cold foods and drinks

This claim is baseless. Just as there’s no scientific proof that hot things prevent COVID-19, there’s no proof that cold things make you more susceptible. UNICEF and the WHO have debunked the claim on their websites. Read the fact-check

11. Shave your beard

A 2017 CDC infographic shows how facial hair could interfere with respirator masks. The graphic is unrelated to coronavirus protection, and the CDC has not recommended that people shave their beards to ward off the virus. Read the fact-check

12. Smoking marijuana

It isn’t true, bud. Even though marijuana is used sometimes to treat chronic pain, it’s likely to give users "short-term problems with attention, memory, and learning," the CDC says, and it can be harmful for developing brains. So, maybe not helpful for the coronavirus. Read the fact-check

RELATED: 7 ways to avoid misinformation during the coronavirus pandemic

13. Using cocaine

If there were a cure for the novel coronavirus, we wouldn’t count on it being a stimulant like cocaine. Cocaine is a highly addictive drug that can lead to long-term respiratory problems and movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease. Read the fact-check

14. Drinking bleach

This type of "cure" is dangerous and should not be taken seriously. The FDA has released multiple warnings about the "dangerous and potentially life-threatening side effects" of the solution, such as vomiting and liver failure. Officials urge people not to drink it. Read the fact-check

15. Wearing a medical mask with the white side out

While some social media posts say the white side of the mask contains a filter, it’s actually for moisture absorption from your mouth and nose. Take it from global health agencies and medical mask producers: wear the colored side of the mask on the outside. Read the fact-check

16. Chloroquine as a surefire treatment

A French study of 20 COVID-19 patients indicates the drug, which is prescribed to prevent or treat malaria, might help treat the coronavirus. But it is no "100% cure." U.S. health officials stress the evidence from a small French study is only anecdotal and that much more study is needed. Read the fact-check

17. Avoiding hand sanitizer

Although it is not effective against all viruses, hand sanitizers with high alcohol content have proven effective against human coronaviruses. While soap and water is preferred, officials recommend the use of hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to kill the coronavirus. Read the fact-check

18. Avoiding hair extensions

China is a major source of hair extensions, and the industry has been affected by the coronavirus outbreak. But the FDA has found no evidence that the virus is spreading via imports. Read the fact-check

19. Melanin

Melanin is a natural pigment that gives color to skin and eyes. It does not make you any less susceptible to coronavirus. Read the fact-check

Now more than ever, it’s important to sort fact from fiction. Please donate to support our mission.

Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter

Our Sources

See fact-checks.

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Daniel Funke

Fact-checking COVID-19 prevention, treatment myths