As the number of COVID-19 cases in the world continues to grow, it is important to know what you can do to "flatten the curve" or slow the pandemic from spreading even more. By now you have probably heard "washing your hands with soap and water is the most effective way to prevent the spread COVID-19" over and over again. However, many people are not talking about what type of soap you should be using to fight COVID-19.
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that get their name from the "crown-like" shape of the virus itself (corona = crown). Coronaviruses have been known to cause common diseases among humans (as we know all too well). This can be anything from the common cold to severe respiratory illnesses. Some kinds of coronaviruses can also infect animals, and sometimes we can even see coronaviruses jump from animals to humans. This is the theory circulating around the coronavirus, COVID-19. SARS and MERS are other examples of coronaviruses.
Soap has the ability to break down the virus so that it destabilizes and can be washed from your skin. Soap molecules have a dual nature. Meaning that one side of the molecule is attracted to water and the other side is attracted to fats or oils. This is what makes soap so effective against killing coronaviruses. If you put oil and water into a glass what happens? They separate. However, if you were to add some soap to the glass and stir it up, you'd see that the oil can disperse. The side of the soap molecule that is attracted to fats and oils sticks to the oil molecules while the side that likes water is being pulled in all different directions toward the water and tearing that fatty outer coating apart. Soap works the same way on coronaviruses because it has a "fatty" outer layer (or envelope). Those soap-loving molecules stick to the outer layer of the virus and the water-loving molecules pull it apart breaking the envelope and destroying the virus.
Hand sanitizers and sanitizing wipes are good alternatives if you don't have access to soap or you are not able to wash your hands. Alcohol-based sanitizers are usually effective as long as they are made up of 60-80% alcohol. However, it is important to note that these alcohol-based sanitizers should not be used as a replacement for soap. You should still wash your hands and avoid touching your face as much as possible.
Soaps are classified as either ionic or non-ionic. Ionic soaps that are made using surfactants are more efficient but can be harder on your skin. Non-ionic soaps are often milder and easier on your skin. Whether your soap is in liquid form, solid-form, hand-made, or machine-made, all soap can kill coronaviruses! Just make sure to scrub your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to make sure you give the soap plenty of time to break the virus apart so you can stay safe and healthy!