Acetic acid, the active ingredient in vinegar, can effectively kill mycobacteria, even the highly drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis, an international team of researchers from Venezuela, France, and the US recently reported.
“Mycobacteria are known to cause tuberculosis and leprosy, but non-TB mycobacteria are common in the environment, even in tap water, and are resistant to commonly used disinfectants,” senior study author Howard Takiff was quoted as saying. “When they contaminate the sites of surgery or cosmetic procedures, they cause serious infections.”
While testing a drug that needed to be dissolved in acetic acid, Tarkiff’s colleague Claudia Cortesia found that the control, with acetic acid alone, killed the mycobacteria she wanted to study. Acetic acid is less toxic than bleach, which is often used to disinfect TB, and is less expensive than other disinfectants that kill tuberculosis, making it an attractive and effective disinfectant for hospitals, doctors' offices, and labs in developing countries, where funds are low and mycobacteria are especially common.