Washing Your Hands With Soap For Twenty Seconds Is One Of The Best Ways To Protect Yourself From Germs; But How Exactly Do Soapy Suds Kill Infectious Bacteria And Viruses?
According to Dr. Lee Riley, MD, professor, and co-chair of UC Berkeley’s Department of Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, soap’s killing power comes from its molecular structure: a chain attached to a long “tail.”
The head of this structure is hydrophilic or hydrophilic, while its tail is hydrophobic or hydrophobic. The hydrophobic tail tends to fats, whole bacteria, and some viruses, including coronavirus (the cause of covid 19). These viruses have a lipid membrane that makes them vulnerable to the lipid-piercing tail of the soap molecule. According to Riley:
The tail attaches itself to the lipid membrane of the bacterium, and that is how the bacterium is killed.
Some pathogens have stable cell walls; as a result, they can survive even after the hydrophobic tail of soap penetrates their membranes; But even in these cases, soap molecules can defeat bacteria and viruses by surrounding and isolating them.
According to Dr. John Swartzberg, a physician, retired clinical professor, and infectious diseases expert at the University of California, Berkeley, when soap attacks these pathogens, the tail of the soap molecules sticks to the lipid membrane of the cell, and the hydrophobic head of the soap molecule is placed outside.
This way, a small ball of soap molecules called micelles is formed around the pathogen. The micelles easily trap bacteria and viruses because the outer part of the micelles is hydrophilic; as a result, it cleans the hands easily.
Then tested 2010, researchers evaluated the effectiveness of soap on 20 volunteers who had their hands contaminated with diarrhea-causing bacteria 480 times. The subjects then randomly performed one of three actions: washing their hands with soap, washing their hands with water only, or sitting down. Their hands were for diarrhea-causing microbes. This research was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
In the hands-sitting group, the bacteria were present in 44 percent of the participants.
In the group that only washed their hands with water, bacteria were present in 23% of the subjects, and in the group that washed their hands with soap and water, bacteria were found in only 8% of the issues.
According to Swartzberg, soap molecules work well in removing and destroying hand germs. As a result, antibacterial soaps can be unnecessary and even harmful and lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Even when antibacterial soap is washed off, it can cause an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria in local water supplies.
In addition, antibacterial soap kills all bacteria and Evee good bacteria. However, one of the essential features of washing is neglected, and that is time. It takes at least 20 seconds for the tail of the soap molecule to optimally adhere to pathogens on the hand or other surface. Reducing the soap washing time means losing the complete soapy protection.