From the RNAseZap MSDS, it is an SDS at some unknown concentration, maybe with some NaOH?

Some other links suggest there is some NaOH as well.

The Ambion site states that RNAseZap destroys RNAse activity on contact, but they also instruct to rinse with water twice after wiping RNAseZap on the surface being cleaned.

So, does RNAseZap actually destroy RNAse activity, or is it simply a "good detergent" to pick them up and rinse them away?

Thanks! Carmen

  • $\begingroup$ Look up their patent. I remember it was an ammonium salt. $\endgroup$
    – user4920
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 23:47

2 Answers 2


It's hard to know what RNaseZap does since the ingredients list is a trade secret. However, I expect it is a lot more than just detergent. RNaseA is extremely hard to destroy; moreover it can easily renature once the denaturant is removed. Therefore, very minute quantities are sufficient to annihilate RNA experiments. The historical method of purification was to boil solutions of it until all other proteins denatured and could be easily separated. I can personally attest that you can precipitate it in pure alcohols and it will spontaneously refold as soon as it is rehydrated.

I would not trust a simple detergent to get rid of it; you'll need something more volatile to be reliable. A lot of "home made RNaseZap" recipes on the internet include hydrogen peroxide, which causes a variety of covalent modifications to the protein. It also has the advantage of cleaning itself up (eventually turning into H2O). The detergent is useful because you typically don't want any protein residue floating around your experiments, denatured or not. If you have some dried RNaseA aggregates, it will also help break those up.

I work with RNaseA itself, so I can't personally vouch for the recipe below (since I'm not interested in destroying my sample), but it seems sound. But if you have the cash to blow, just get the RNaseZap. It's very widely used by RNA labs and you really don't want to chance a potentially expensive experiment on it. Especially since you're constantly shedding tons of RNaseA from your skin, being sloppy will probably bite you eventually.


The Ambion's RNAseZAP is not a detergent but contains chemicals that denature RNAse, the step of rinsing with water is necessary in order to clean up the chemicals as well as the denatured proteins left. It is highly recommended as it completely wipes out the RNAse and the experiment can be run safely. No need to risk time, money and samples.

So, to sum up, it is not a detergent, but a solution that denatures proteins.

Good luck!

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! Is this denaturing irreversible? $\endgroup$ Commented May 16, 2013 at 3:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The MSDS reports to contain only a 'trade secret' surfactant in the range 1-20%. Why you say it is not a detergent? $\endgroup$ Commented May 16, 2013 at 12:14
  • $\begingroup$ Which chemicals that denature RNAse could it contain? $\endgroup$ Commented May 22, 2013 at 4:52

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