The mantra, “Wash your hands” should be drilled into your psyche by now, but have you ever wondered just how this works to deal with viruses?
First, you need to use soap and you need to rub that soapy foam all over your hands for 15 to 20 seconds. Just dipping your fingers into some running water will not do the trick.
So how does this work?
Many viruses and germs are protected by lipid membranes, a fatty coating. Soap dissolves this coating and the pathogen breaks down.
At the molecular level, soap has a “hydrophilic” head that bonds with water and a “hydrophobic” tail that bonds with oil and fat. The pathogen is destroyed when the tail of the soap molecule attaches itself to and wedges apart the fatty coating of the pathogen. The object of their desire is then effectively destroyed.
Soap also interferes with the chemical bond that allows dirt and other substances (including the remnants of the virus) to stick to surfaces (including skin), scooping them up into tiny floating cages that can be rinsed way with water. Alcohol does much the same thing, but it is not as effective in washing away the residue.
Wash your hands! And dry them thoroughly.