Soap: The Real Anti-Virus

A bit of chemistry in this article compiled by Andrew Bolt, but wade through t to discover the big weapon in the pandemic- soap. Better than sanitisers and disinfectants:


Forget all those sanitisers. The humble bar of soap, plus hot water, is the potent weapon against the coronavirus. I didn’t realise how good soap was until I read about its molecular structure – and its wicked tail that cracks through the virus’s fat layers that protects the poison inside. Read this and you’ll never take soap for granted again.

Ferris Jabr:

Soap is made of pin-shaped molecules, each of which has a hydrophilic head – it readily bonds with water – and a hydrophobic tail, which shuns water and prefers to link up with oils and fats…

Some bacteria and viruses have lipid membranes that resemble double-layered micelles with two bands of hydrophobic tails sandwiched between two rings of hydrophilic heads. These membranes are studded with important proteins that allow viruses to infect cells and perform vital tasks that keep bacteria alive. Pathogens wrapped in lipid membranes include coronaviruses, HIV, the viruses that cause hepatitis B and C, herpes, Ebola, Zika, dengue, and numerous bacteria…

When you wash your hands with soap and water, you surround any microorganisms on your skin with soap molecules. The hydrophobic tails of the free-floating soap molecules attempt to evade water; in the process, they wedge themselves into the lipid envelopes of certain microbes and viruses, prying them apart.

“They act like crowbars and destabilize the whole system,” said professor Pall Thordarson, acting head of chemistry at the University of New South Wales. Essential proteins spill from the ruptured membranes into the surrounding water, killing the bacteria and rendering the viruses useless.

Read the full article here

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