"Given the primary use of Kleenex facial tissue, it's only logical that we provide consumers with an added benefit, especially on top of what we already do in dealing with the yucky stuff that comes from a sneeze or cough," said Steve Erb, brand manager of Kleenex.
The middle layer of the three-ply tissue is moisture activated, so when moisture from a cough or sneeze hits it, the formula begins to work within 15 minutes, executives said.
The formula, made up of citric acid and sodium lauryl sulfate, is said to kill 99.9 per cent of cold and flu viruses.
The tissue will be available in the US from early October in 60- and 120-count sizes. The tissues will retail at about $1.39 and $1.99 respectively, or slightly more than current Kleenex tissues, since the company and its competitors are in the middle of a price increase.
Executives at Procter & Gamble, the maker of Puff's, Kleenex's chief competitor, said P&G has no plans to launch a similar product, claiming that the antiviral tissue won't kill viruses in the air or on the surface.
"To the best of our knowledge, it isn't necessary," said Celeste Kuta, a spokesperson for P&G's family care division. "It won't really do anything to prevent disease. The best thing you can do is use a strong tissue."