On Global Hand Washing Day, How Soap Destroys Coronavirus

A reminder on how soap molecules are the most effective in the fight against the virus. 

Updated
Health News
2 min read

On Global Hand Washing Day 2020, here's a reminder of how soap can destroy the coronavirus.

Saying ‘go corona go’ won’t stop the spread of COVID-19. Neither will consuming gaumutra (cow urine). Coronavirus has been declared a pandemic and has 
infected over 2 lakh people and claimed nearly 8,000 lives.

Amid panic, paranoia and the absence of treatment, health professionals are putting their weight behind hand hygiene. It is the most effective thing to ‘flatten the curve’ or slow the spread of the virus down.

How is soap effective against coronavirus, you ask?

The novel coronavirus, like most viruses, majorly spreads through the hands. These act like sticky traps of virus particles. These get a passage into our bodies when we touch our face or eyes with our hands. That’s why washing our hands properly for at least 20 seconds will go a long away in fighting this battle against Coronavirus.

Why Soap?

The answer lies in its molecular composition.

Soap is amphiphilic or shows dual nature. A soap molecule has two halves. One half loves water and isn’t attracted to fatty oils and the other half loves oils but not water. When you wash dirty dishes, a soap molecule interacts with both water and oil. The water-loving half pulls it away from fatty oils, separating it from the dishes. When we scrub and rinse, remnants of food get washed away. The same happens when we wash our hands.

How a soap molecule works. 
How a soap molecule works. 
(Photo: FIT/Aroop Mishra)

Coronavirus also likes the grease on our dishes which sticks to our skin. Its outer membrane consists of lipids or fatty oil. The layer not only protects it but helps it spread though cellular invasion.

While washing hands, soap attaches itself to the virus but also wants to interact with water. This push and pull ends up breaking or dissolving the membrane. When you rinse your hands, all the microorganisms that have been damaged, trapped and killed by soap molecules are washed away.

Water Alone Cannot Remove Virus from Hands

The virus is quite sticky and may not budge with water alone. Soap helps to dissolve the glue that holds the virus together. You have to wash your hands long enough for this to happen. Hence, the #20secondchallenge. There’s also a Spotify playlist called COVID-19. You can now wash your hands to the songs of Beyonce, Post Malone, Miley Cyrus, your pick!

What about Hand Sanitizer?

The right way to use one is to get a sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and rub it onto your hands for at least 20 seconds to ensure full coverage. And follow it up by washing hands with soap.

Sanatizer is a good back-up when soap and water are not accessible.

And…please do not wash your hands with cow urine.

(Make sure you don't miss fresh news updates from us. Click here to stay updated)

Published: 
Stay Up On Your Health

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter Now.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!