Soap vs. Covid

So why does soap works well on the corona virus and indeed most viruses?

Did you know that the corona virus is a self-assembled nano particle in which the weakest link is the lipid (fatty) layer. What soap does it effectively dissolves the fat membrane and the virus falls apart like a house of cards and dies. Or should we say it becomes inactive as viruses are not really alive per se.

The slightly longer story is that most viruses consist of three key building blocks: RNA, proteins and lipids. A virus-infected cell makes lots of these building blocks, which then spontaneously self-assemble to form the virus. Critically, there are no strong covalent bonds that hold these units together, which means you do not necessarily need a super harsh chemical to split those units apart.

Water alone might not be enough to get rid of the virus but soapy water is totally different. Soap contains fat-like substances known as amphiphiles, some of which are structurally very similar to the lipids in the virus membrane. The soap molecules “compete” with the lipids in the virus membrane. This is more or less how soap also removes normal dirt from the skin.

The soap not only loosens the “glue” between the virus and the skin but also the Velcro-like interactions that hold the proteins, lipids and RNA in the virus together.

So why is soap better than alcohol? Pretty much all “disinfectant” products contain a high-percentage alcohol solution (typically 60-80% ethanol) and kills viruses in a similar fashion than soap. However soap is more effective because you only need a fairly small amount of soapy water, which, with rubbing, covers your entire hand easily. Whereas you need to literally soak the virus in ethanol for a brief moment, and wipes or rubbing a gel on the hands does not guarantee that you soak every corner of the skin on your hands effectively enough.

Did you also know that cold processed/handcrafted natural soaps like ours contain 1/5th of naturally occurring glycerin making using lotions unnecessary. So, soap is the best, but please do continue to use alcohol-based sanitizer when soap is not handy or practical!