How Soap Kills COVID-19

Julia Grenoble, Reporter

While there is currently no vaccine to prevent Coronavirus, common soap is able to stop the spread of it. Washing your hands with a simple bar of soap can kill the virus, and it is more effective than most disinfectants and wipes. 

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the Coronavirus is a self-assembled nanoparticle, where the weakest link is the lipid bilayer. Soap dissolves the fatty lipid bilayer, causing the virus to become inactive and fall apart. Different chemicals in soap can break down and dissolve the ‘glue’ that holds the virus together, 

Washing your hands with only water may help, but it is not strong enough to detach the virus from its tight hold on the skin. Soapy water, however, contains a fat-like substance called an amphiphile, which is similar to the lipids in the virus. The soap molecules not only break down the virus, causing it to die, but they also remove the virus from the skin.

Even disinfectants and alcohol-based products (which typically contain 60-80% ethanol) are not as effective as soap, according to The Guardian. With soap, only a small amount is needed to cover your hands and defeat the virus. However, with a disinfectant, the virus would need to be soaked completely in ethanol in order to have a chance at defeating the Coronavirus. Even then, a wipe does not guarantee to reach every part of the surface that needs to be disinfected. 

The spread of COVID-19 is incredibly high, as each new person spreads the disease to about 2.2 people on average, according to Business Insider . The risk of spread is why it is so important to come in contact with others as little as possible. If someone were to touch a steel surface with a virus particle on it, the virus would stick to their hand, and when their hands touch their face, they may become infected. According to a study by The American Journal of Infection Control, most people touch their faces an average of 23 times per hour, so washing your hands is essential.