Does Antibacterial Soap Kill Viruses?

With the advent of Covid-19, people have frequently been asking online about ways to eliminate bacteria and viruses from their hands. Some are even willing to go beyond standard measures and opt for specialized “Antibacterial” hand soaps, for that extra kick of safety. Truth is, to understand the effectiveness of soap vs antibacterial soap, first we have to understand the anatomy of bacteria and viruses.

Microbial Anatomy. Winning Is A Science!

Viruses and bacteria have developed complexities over billions of years of evolution; however their anatomy remains relatively simple for our objective understanding. Viruses are rather simple compared to its single-celled, co-existing bacteria. Viruses contain DNA and/or RNA in center of its anatomy, barriered by a protective layer that is usually made of protein or lipids (fat). This protective layer can be considered as the skin of the virus, and once this skin is disrupted the virus dies as its insides implode externally. Covid-19’s protective barrier is made of mostly lipids and some protein. Due to most of the barrier consisting of fat droplets, there are several methods to “pop” this skin that is keeping the virus intact and alive. The simplest? Soap and water.

What is soap?

While it’s true you can zap viruses with electricity to kill them, but who has the pinpoint accuracy and time to do that? For the sake of effectiveness and efficiency, the best way to kill viruses on the surface of your skin is to wash that area of skin with soap and water.

Soap is a surfactant. This means that it contains chemicals and has properties that disrupts and breaks surface tension. How does it break surface tension and why is it useful for killing viruses? Imagine soap molecules as a magnet with 2 polar ends. One end is attracted to water and the other is hydrophobic, meaning it hates water. When soap is simultaneously introduced to water and foreign elements such as dirt, the one end that is attracted to water will cling to water while the other end is forced to cling onto anything other than water. These two perpetual actions allow for soap to cling on to nasty elements while adhering to the motion of the flowing water, effectively and efficiently removing particles for your skin.

KILLING VIRUSES

Dirt and debris are just inorganic particles, but what happens when the hydrophobic end of soap molecules try to penetrate the skin layer of bacteria and viruses? Well, this is where the magic happens. By soap molecules trying to burrow it’s clinging mechanism into the protective layer of viruses, much like it does to simple dirt, the soap molecules burst open the innards of the viruses by disrupting and destabilizing the skin.

Knowing this information, it is crucial to understand the main point that we learned throughout this lesson. It is the mechanism of soap, a surfactant, popping open the membrane of the Viruses to kill it. The killing of the virus is not due to any chemicals or additives founds in sanitizers and antibacterial products.

Conclusion

When you have access to water, soap will ideally eliminate and kill viruses. The addition of antibacterial properties will not improve the disinfection process of washing your skin with soap and water. If you do not have any access to water, there will be no mass and force (flow of water) to “drag” the soap molecules off your skin, therefore you will be much better off with care products that contain antibacterial properties. OMEDI USA offers 70% Alcohol Hand Sanitizers as well as Alcohol Free Hand Sanitizing Lotions, for your convenience of protecting your body from viruses when no water is available.