How soap absolutely annihilates the new virus

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How soap absolutely annihilates the new virus
As Covid-19 cases in the US surge to more than 1,000 and fear sweeps the country, there's one consumer product critical to our great national battle to "flatten the curve," or slow the epidemic: soap. Humble, ancient, cheap, effective soap. Respiratory viruses - like the novel coronavirus, the flu, and the common cold - can be spread via our hands.


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Spreading respiratory viruses

Our hands are the front lines in the war against the new virus.
Respiratory viruses (the new virus, the flu, and the common cold)  can be spread via our hands: We can pick up dro...


Prevention is essential

  • Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequent...


The top way to clean our hands

Washing your hands with soap and water is the top way to clean our hands. If soap is not available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can help.
When you wash your hands...


How soap destroys viruses

  • The side of the soap molecule that’s attracted to fat and repelled by water buries its way into the virus’s fat and protein shell. This breaks the virus's coat.
  • With th...



The worst enemy of the virus

The worst enemy of the virus

Even though a vaccine for the new virus is at least a year away, we all a way to fight the virus in our own homes: soap and water.
The soaps we use contain a class of compounds called surfac...

Washing our hands the right way

Hand-washing is one of the best ways to protect against the new virus. But it has to be done the right way.
You have to scrub your hands thoroughly with soap and clean water for at least 20 seconds. And make sure you cover all the important parts: palms, wrinkles, fingernails, between fingers, under rings, bandaids, or splints you may have on an injured finger.

Soap vs. hand sanitizer

Destroying the structure of viruses and other contaminations with soap and water is different than using disinfectants and sanitizers, which are designed to kill germs but not remove them from your skin.

What we know

The virus that is causing the current outbreak is a respiratory one and spreads through droplet infection.

  • There have been no known cases of the virus spreading through "smear" inf...

Contaminated surfaces

  • The virus can be detected in aerosols (airborne droplets smaller than five micrometers) for up to three hours.
  • On copper, for up to four hours.
  • On cardboard, for up to 24 hours.
  • On stainless steel or plastic, for up to three days.

The virus particles on any surface decrease rapidly at the start, then slowly approaches zero over time.

Touching or eating contaminated food

If a food worker coughs over your food while preparing it, although really gross, your risk of contracting the disease that way is minimal.

According to a 2018 overview of respiratory viruses, the virus reproduces along the respiratory tract. It is a different pathway than the digestive tract food follows when you swallow it.

Even if you handle contaminated food and then deposit the virus along your respiratory tract, it's highly unlikely to get sick this way.

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Wash Your Hands

The best way to lower your risk of contracting the new virus is to wash your hands after you cough, sneeze, touch your face, and when you leave and return from the grocery store.

It's also i...

To Keep Yourself Virus-Free

  • Wash your hands.
  • Stay home if you can.
  • If you're coughing or sneezing, wear a protective mask.
  • First clean, then disinfect your home.
  • Target high-touch surfaces daily.


The EPA has a full list of disinfectants that will kill the new virus.

Disinfectant that will work is disinfecting wipes, disinfectant spray, Isopropyl alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide.

If you cannot find store-bought disinfectants, you can make a disinfectant spray with 4 teaspoons household bleach mixed with 1-quart water into a spray bottle. To use, spray on the surface, wait for 10 minutes and wipe away with a wet cloth. Don't mix bleach with another cleaning chemical.

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