How soap kills the coronavirus

Plain old soap and water absolutely annihilate coronavirus.

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You’ve been told a thousand times: wash your hands to stop the spread of COVID-19. But why does this work so well? It has to do with the way the soap molecules are able to absolutely demolish viruses, like the coronavirus.

Read more on Vox:

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Transcript

You know that the best way to prevent the
spread of coronavirus is to wash your hands.Wash your hands, doo doo, doo doo, doo doo.Wash your hands!But … why?It’s because soap — regular soap, fancy
honeysuckle soap, artisan peppermint soap,just any soap — absolutely annihilates viruses
like the coronavirus.Here’s how.This is what a virus, like coronavirus, looks
like.It’s a bit of material surrounded by a coating
of proteins — and fat.Viruses easily stick to places like your hands,
but when you rinse your hands with just water,it rushes right over the virus.That’s because that layer of fat makes the
virus behave kind of like a drop of oil.You can see it happening in this demonstration.Oils are just liquid fats.What happens when you pour oil into water?It floats — it doesn’t mix.But add soap…And suddenly that fatty oil dissolves into
the water.That’s because inside, soap has two-sided
molecules.One end of the molecule is attracted to water,
the other end to fat.So when the soap molecules come in contact
with water and fat, these dual attractionsliterally pull the fat apart, surrounding
the oil particles and dispersing them through the water. Let’s go back to our coronavirus molecule.With that layer of fat holding everything
together.When it interacts with soap … bam!The fat gets pulled out by the soap.Soap literally pulls apart and demolishes
these viruses.And then the water rinses the harmless, leftover
shards of virus down the drain.But, and you know where I'm going with this, it takes time for this effect to happen.20 seconds, to be specific.To show why, we ordered this lotion that mimics
viruses and their fatty layers.It glows under a UV light.If you just rinse your hands under regular
water … nothing comes off.If you wash for just 5 seconds or 10 seconds,
your hands are still covered.The virus is still here, able to get you and
others sick.But 20 full seconds:Now the soap is actually
destroying the virus.Hand sanitizer works too, because it’s mostly
alcohol, and alcohol works in a somewhat similarway to soap, breaking down that fatty layer.You need a high concentration of alcohol to
make that work.The CDC recommends hand sanitizers with at
least 60% alcohol.But even with 60% alcohol, the CDC recommends
using soap if you can.If your hands are sweaty or dirty when you
use the sanitizer, that can dilute it anddiminish its effectiveness.As for soap, just any old soap works.You don’t need soap marketed as antibacterial,
even.The FDA says skip it — there’s no proof
it is any more effective.Just be sure to wash your hands.For 20 seconds.That’s “Happy Birthday” twice.Or the chorus to Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts.”Or Prince.Or Eminem.Or even Dolly.Just as long as it’s 20 seconds.And you’re using the ultimate virus annihilator:
soap.

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