Good old soap and water have been around for thousands of years. How is something so ancient still so effective against bacteria and viruses? Ask mom; better yet, ask a scientist.
The Science of Soap
Most viruses have an outer layer made up of lipids, more commonly known as fat. Water alone tends to wick off the fat, but the soap will dissolve it. Soap and alcohol are great for dissolving that fatty outer layer. Think of them as the superheroes of the germ world.
Germs: The Struggle is Real
It comes down to how soap molecules are formed. One end bonds with water and the tail end rejects it, seeking out oil and fatty-like tissue. Like a magnet, the tail tries to push away from the water and attaches itself to the virus’s fatty outer layer, trying to pry itself into it like a spearhead. Once the infection is broken open, it spills into the soapy water and dies.
Now, who knew there was so much drama involved in washing your hands?
The Science of Scrubbing
Water and scrubbing are vital because they cause the sudsy bubbles to form, causing the bacteria, viruses, and other germs to attach themselves to the suds. Warm water bubbles and foams quicker than cold. While you can use cold water, you’ll need to wash for about 15 more seconds.
Washing for 20 seconds (with warm water, 30-35 seconds with cold) allows this germ-obliteration to occur. Building up bubbles and washing every surface of your hands, trapping all germs in the soap molecules. Then as you rinse, the foam and bacteria and viruses are removed away down the drain.
Now that you have the science behind hand washing down pat, you can understand how important it can be to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Be mindful of what you touch and wash your hands often. It’s a tried-and-true way to stop the spread of this horrific virus.