Washing your hands correctly with soap destroys coronavirus

Washing your hands with soap and water is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself from the COVID-19 virus — but it's not the only precaution you should take.


NSFW    TAIPEI — Washing your hands thoroughly and often with soap and water for at least 20 to 30 seconds is one of the most effective ways to eliminate the coronavirus from your skin.

Soap molecules have a hydrophilic head which is attracted to water and a hydrophobic tail that seeks to bond with lipids such as oils and fats.

Coronaviruses are enveloped RNA viruses. Their key components are RNA, the virus's genetic material; proteins that allow the virus to infect cells; and a lipid envelope that coats the virus. This lipid membrane has two rings of hydrophilic heads surrounding two layers of hydrophobic tails.

Soap molecules destabilize a coronavirus because their hydrophobic tails are attracted to lipids in the virus's lipid bilayer. The soap molecules stick to lipids in the bilayer and pry them apart, encapsulating them in bubbles called micelles that wash away in the lather.

In addition to disrupting the lipid membrane of the virus, soap molecules also disrupt the bonds that hold the proteins, lipids and viral RNA together. They effectively pull the virus apart, and the viral particles are rinsed away in water.
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