In very simple terms, there is a fatty layer or membrane around coronavirus, Soap breaks this membrane. Once broken, coronavirus virus dies or becomes inactive.March 19, 2020, 5:59 p.m. | Updated March 23, 2020, 12:14 p.m.
How do soap and sanitizer protect against coronavirus?
In very simple terms, there is a fatty layer or membrane around coronavirus, Soap breaks this membrane. Once broken, coronavirus virus dies or becomes inactive.
According to the CDC, only soap and a sanitizer with more than 60% pure alcohol content can break the membrane.
A more technical explanation:
Most viruses consist of three key building blocks: Ribonucleic acid (RNA), Proteins and Lipids.
A virus-infected cell makes lots of these building blocks, which then spontaneously self-assemble to form the virus. There are no strong covalent bonds holding these units together. This means you don’t need high chemistry to break those units. When an infected cell dies, all these new viruses escape and go on to infect other cells. Some end up also in the airways of lungs.
Can’t I wash my hands with just water?
This is not effective. The coronavirus is a protein that has a casing. Imagine an egg. Once you break open the casing, the protein has nothing holding it together anymore. The only effective way to crack open the casing is with the use of sanitizer with 60% alcohol or soap.
Why soap? That seems like it’s too mild to work.
Soap has something called amphiphiles. These amphiphiles are very effective to break open the casing and reduce the efficacy and thus spread of the coronavirus. If we can offer some psychoanalysis, soap to many is something we use on a daily basis and keep around the house which is why it seems too passe to work. In these uncertain times the mind wants something more radical than plain old soap. But ever wondered why we use soap on a daily basis? This is why. Better hygiene means better immunity. So many stop stocking up on toilet paper and try soap instead.
Twenty seconds is the recommended time period to wash your hands. Spread those amphiphiles everywhere, between your fingers, your thumbs, your fingertips and nails to protect against the coronavirus.
In case you haven’t heard, twenty seconds is about how long it takes to sing, “Happy Birthday” twice.
What to look out for in store bought sanitizers?
The alcohol content. There are many brands in pharmacies. Make sure you read the label to check the alcohol content. If you are not sure, we were advised by professionals not to assume that any sanitizer would kill the virus.
In some cases, the alcohol content is not implicit in the product labels. One such example is the PureHands sanitizer from the reputable Himalaya Drug Co., and we checked with them.
Philipe Haydon, CEO of Himalaya told Explocity, "We are happy to share that Himalaya PureHands sanitizers comply with CDC guidelines and have the right concentration of alcohol, as recommended by WHO, for proper hand sanitization. PureHands sanitizers are infused with herbs which are known for their anti-microbial and skin conditioning properties. PureHands sanitizers kill 99.9% of germs, help prevent the spread of infection, and ensure total hand hygiene. A series of clinical studies conducted at leading hospitals in India are testimony to the fact that PureHands significantly reduces germs that can cause a variety of illnesses. The gel-based format of the sanitizers ensure that hands are kept moisturized, and help prevent over drying of skin.”
Note: We mention Himalaya Drug only by way of example and not particularly as an Explocity recommendation.
I cannot get hand sanitizer anywhere. I was offered some at a very high blackmarket price.
To counter these opportunists, we published an article on how you can make hand sanitizer at home with ingredients available from Amazon (and we guess other places.)
We have done this successfully. It’s very easy.
Why can’t I simply use the 100% pure alcohol? Why bother adding aloe and such?
While it is effective against the virus, it will be extremely irritable on the skin and hence you will use it less often. With this virus it’s important to wash your hands or sanitize as regularly as possible. The pure Isopropyl alcohol might dry your skin but the aloe vera helps to keep the moisture levels status quo, thus not drying the skin of your hands.
Why can’t I just use whisky or vodka? Isn’t that also alcohol?
The alcohol you drink is blended with other ingredients including water and contains only 40% alcohol. This is not effective to break open the virus casing. So use that vodka you have at home to make a cocktail, because we also got to quell the nerves in these times.