How do soaps and sanitizers help in tackling Covid-19
Our mundane household tasks have turned into a source of uncertainty and anxiety as we struggle with getting the basics done all while keeping our loved ones safe and healthy. With widespread misinformation through bogus remedies, myths, and fake news about the Covid-19 virus it can cost lives, as well as put everyone at risk and add to the stress of having to filter fact from fiction.
While research into the COVID-19 virus is ongoing, we know the virus is transmitted through direct contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person (through coughing and sneezing), and touching surfaces contaminated with the virus. The virus may survive on surfaces for a few hours up to several days. The WHO and UNICEF have good news! Simple disinfectants can kill it. Now what does this mean for you?
Wash your hands because it’s the best line of defence. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20-30 seconds. An easy way to time it with your children is by singing a nursery rhyme or the full happy birthday song, twice. Make sure to wash hands after you blow your nose, sneeze into a tissue, use the restroom, when you leave, and return to your home, before preparing or eating food, applying make-up, handling contact lenses etc.
If using a hand sanitizer ensure that it contains at least 60 percent alcohol, ensure coverage on all parts of the hands, and rub hands together for 20-30 seconds until hands feel dry. If hands are visibly dirty, always wash hands with soap and water.
Coldwater and warm water are equally effective at killing germs and viruses — as long as you use soap and wash your hands the right way!
How does washing with soap help get rid of the Virus?
The grime on our hands contains innumerable viruses and bacteria. Washing with water without using soap helps reduce the number of microbes but does not remove most of the virus and bacteria completely. Using soap, therefore, becomes far more effective in removing microbes. Viruses such as coronavirus, influenza-causing viruses, Ebola, Zika have their genetic material encased in a layer of fat called the lipid envelop. Soap molecules are pin-shaped with a head that is water-loving (hydrophilic) and a tail that is oil-loving (oleophilic). Being oleophilic, the tail portion of the molecule tends to have an affinity for and ‘competes’ with the lipids in the virus envelope. Since the chemical bonds holding the virus together are not very strong, the long oleophilic tail gets inserted into the envelope and tends to have a ‘crowbar’ effect that breaks the lipid envelope of the virus. The tail also competes with the bond that binds the RNA and the lipid envelop thus dissolving the virus into its components which are then removed by water.
In the context of COVID-19 prevention according to WHO and UNICEF, you should make sure to wash your hands at the following times:
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After visiting a public space, including public transportation, markets, and places of worship
- After touching surfaces outside of the home, including money
- Before, during and after caring for a sick person
- Before and after eating
How do sanitizers get rid of the virus?
The alcohol present in hand sanitizers dissolves the lipid envelop, thus inactivating the virus. In addition, the alcohol also tends to change the shape or denature the mushroom-shaped protein structures that stick out of the lipid envelope. The mushroom-shaped protein structures help the virus to bind to special structures found on human cells and enter the cells. To be effective, the sanitizers should contain at least 60% alcohol.
Unlike soap lather, the alcohol does not meet all parts of the hand. So, care needs to be taken to use enough hand sanitizer to increase the coverage. Unlike water, alcohol run does not remove the dead viruses from the hand. While a sanitizer can quickly reduce the number of microbes, it does not get rid of all types of germs and is “not as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy”.
With Ekam’s collection of handmade soaps and sanitizers, you can smell good and feel great while fighting off the virus. To keep your skin from drying out with all the extra washing, have a look at our body lotions for softer feeling skin with a delicious fragrance.