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Emma Rohmann, Founder of Green At Home, Gives Her Expertise on The Best Soaps to Use Against COVID-19
If, like so many people, you’re spending hours scouring all corners of the internet for hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap, I’m about to give you some more free time. Because the truth is, these shouldn’t be your go-to when trying to ward off SARS-CoV-2 (the official name of the virus responsible for the covid-19 disease).
To understand why, let’s start with a basic science lesson… I’ll keep it simple, promise.
The Good News: the Coronavirus is Easily Destroyed
To be clear, not all viruses are made the same way. When talking about how they can be destroyed, there are two distinctions that matter: enveloped and non-enveloped. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is enveloped, and this is a good thing.
The envelope is a double layer of lipids – which are fatty molecules made up of a hydrophilic (water-loving) “head” on the outside of the layer, and hydrophobic (water-hating or fat-loving) “tails” that point inwards, sandwiched between the heads.
This layer is very sensitive to things like alcohol and soap, which each work effectively but differently to destroy the coronavirus.
Why Soap Works to kill the Coronavirus
Soap is made up of molecules with free-floating hydrophobic tails and hydrophilic heads. When put in water and in the presence of the coronavirus, the tails try to avoid the water molecules and wedge themselves between the fatty layer of the virus. Once the protective outer layer is broken, the pieces of the virus spill out into the soapy water, and the soap molecules surround and trap them – along with dirt – to be washed away.
Antibacterial Soap Not Required
It might be tempting to look for the most powerful antibacterial products on the shelf – though you’ll be hard pressed now to find any. But you don’t need anything other than plain soap to destroy the coronavirus. The key is to wash your hands for a full 20 seconds, rubbing all surfaces of your skin, to effectively remove any virus cells and then rinse them down the drain.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC’s Provincial Health Officer, said it this way: “Wash your hands like you’ve been chopping jalapenos and you need to change your contacts.”
Antibacterial soaps have not been shown to be more effective than regular soap and water, and often contain other ingredients that can be irritating to the skin (like or hormone disrupting (like triclosan). So even the health agencies like Health Canada and the FDA only recommend regular soap.
Hand Sanitizer as a Back-Up
As for hand sanitizer, it’s a good alternative for when you don’t have access to soap and water. The alcohol must be in high enough concentrations (at least 60%) to destabilize the lipid outer layer of the virus, but the virus has to be soaking in the alcohol for it to work. This also doesn’t remove the virus cells from the skin like soap does.
Soap works faster, and requires less to be effective, but hand sanitizer is still better than nothing.
Favourite Soaps from PurPicks
Since you’re washing your hands a million times a day (you are, right?!), it’s a great time to find your new favourite soap. Here are some of the top rated soaps on PurPicks right now:
EarthlyEssentials – Olive Castile Soap Rated 4.68 out of 5 (22 Reviews)
“I use this in the kitchen. It smells so good and works well. Love that it’s all natural ingredients.” – Kelly
Birch Babe – Shampoo And Body Bar Rated 5.00 out of 5 based on (7 Reviews)
“such a great sudsy bar, I travel with it too, love the case. This bar has lasted me over 3 months. the smell is amazing.” – Debbie
JustBirch – Artisan All Natural Soap Rated 5.00 out of 5 based (3 Reviews)
“Great stuff! I love that it’s organic and comes from a company that’s committed to helping our natural environment.”
Alaska Glacial Mud – Bergamot & Lemongrass & Mandarin & Lavender Glacial Mineral Soap Bar 4.60 out of 5 (5 Reviews)
“From camping to sauna to shower to kitchen, this soap cuts through it all with grace and divine essential oils! I use it for washing grimy kid paws, shampoo hair for myself and baby, shaving my legs and washing my face!” – Lauren
Thank you for reading and stay safe!