– If you have to have specific ingredients in your disinfectant wipes/sprays to clean off unwanted contamination by health organizations – why is anything under the category of ‘hand soap’ considered effective for washing your hands?

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– If you have to have specific ingredients in your disinfectant wipes/sprays to clean off unwanted contamination by health organizations – why is anything under the category of ‘hand soap’ considered effective for washing your hands?

In: Biology

the outside of this virus is made of fatty oil. Breaking up oils is pretty much the property that makes something a soap. if something is any sort of soap at all it’s going to tear up the virus no special chemicals needed.

Because it’s actually the water that gets your hands clean. Soap simply makes it more effective. Wipes and sprays don’t get rinsed off, typically, and so must have certain ingredients to kill the offending micro-organisms.

Disinfectant wipes and sprays work in a completely different method than hand soaps, so the necessary ingredients are different.

Soaps work because they’re a type of chemical called *surfactants*. They work by lowering the surface tension of water, enabling it to break up and carry off dirt and other materials more effectively. Soaps also usually contain *emulsifiers*, chemicals designed to break up and carry off fats and oils. Taken together, these chemicals in soaps make water more effective at cleaning your hands; you’re quite literally rinsing off contaminants – including viruses and bacteria – and physically getting rid of them.

Surface wipes and sprays, however, are not rinsed off. So they’re not physically removing pathogens. Since that’s the case, they have to outright kill those pathogens rather than simply help you wash them off. Killing a bacterium or inactivating a virus is a lot more difficult than just washing them away because they’re usually pretty tough little things. So, you need specific, fairly powerful chemicals capable of physically disrupting the bacteria and viruses.

Those two chemicals act very differently. Bleach and alcohol based wipes kill the microorganisms by making the environment too toxic to survive. They will destroy the “skin” of the microorganisms. Hand soap on the other hand will attach itself to the microorganisms a bit like a puzzle piece. When the soap is washed away so are the microorganisms.

The issue with wipes and sanitizer is that it isn’t guaranteed to wash away any bacteria and alcohol will evaporate quickly (that’s why it makes your hands feel cold for a minute) meaning your hands go right back to being a hospitable environment to any surviving microorganisms. And survival isn’t outside of the realm of possibility since the usual time to cover your hands in hand sanitizer isn’t long enough to scrub it well and truly into all the nooks and crannies.

Soap on the other hand (when used properly) will remove the microorganisms entirely leaving nothing behind to survive. The drawback is, it requires time and water. While hand sanitizer and wipes can be used anywhere.