Memo to People Hunting Sanitizer: Soap Is Better - Page 2

It functions like a 'demolition team' against the coronavirus, explains scientist
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2020 10:55 AM CDT

  • Why? The CDC runs through a number of reasons why this is so, including: "Soap and water are more effective than hand sanitizers at removing certain kinds of germs, like Cryptosporidium, norovirus, and Clostridium difficile. Although alcohol-based hand sanitizers can inactivate many types of microbes very effectively when used correctly, people may not use a large enough volume of the sanitizers or may wipe it off before it has dried."
  • Scientist's explanation: The above-mentioned Thordarson put up a Twitter thread explaining what's going on here, which involves the chemical nature of soap and how it interacts with the virus. At the Guardian, Gaby Hinsliff boils it down: "The virus is a self-assembled nanoparticle in which the weakest link is the lipid (fatty) bilayer. Soap dissolves the fat membrane and the virus falls apart like a house of cards and dies—or rather, we should say it becomes inactive as viruses aren’t really alive." Or as Thordarson puts it to Vox: Soap "is almost like a demolition team breaking down a building and taking all the bricks away."
  • A how-to: So, yes, to recap, use soap and water often—or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when you're not near a sink—but it also matters that you wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds. And you've got to hit everything: The Wall Street Journal has a video tutorial.
(Read more coronavirus stories.)

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