How handwashing with soap can kill coronavirus?

how handwashing can kill coronavirus

The world is experiencing coronavirus pandemic the worst pandemic in the last 100 years. It started in one China from there it has spread to Italy and throughout 200 countries in the whole world. In this situation, we need to understand how to fight back against this virus. Remember in this case our enemy is invisible so let’s try to know how we can fight back how handwashing can help.

Example of an infected person:

Let’s say an individual is infected with the coronavirus. Now when he coughs or sneeze he is putting his droplets filled up with coronavirus in the air. Studies have shown that coronavirus can persist in the air for at least 3 to 4 hours. And on surfaces, it can stay for even days. Now let’s say another individual that’s the same surface on which that previous individual has sneezed or coughed.

handwashing with soap kill coronaviwus

Now the droplets come to his hand and next time when he touches his hand anywhere he is infecting the other people as well. For example, handshaking or while returning home he is going to the supermarket. He is touching the supermarket cart and putting the virus there as well while taking out money. Let’s say he is transmitting the virus or putting the virus on that surface and the virus can stay on that surface for long.

Now while another individual touches that same cart not knowing that there is a virus. The virus goes to his arms as well and next time he touches his face with the hand the game is over. We can understand the degree of transmission of this virus and how dangerous it is. None of these things we actively perceive while doing our everyday work right. But it’s the time to perceive these kinds of things that what are the possible ways that you can get exposed to the virus. From exchanging money exchanging plastic goods or taking grocery packets these things can really transmit the virus.

Washing hands:

Right in this situation what is doable or what is recommended by WHO is handwashing. Assume that a person has not washed his hand and taking an elevator. In the elevator, a door handle of his home, he is spreading the virus and keeping it on the surface. And before the virus can die out it takes several days for the virus to die outright. So the virus would be transmitted to another individual who whosoever touched the door handle or touch the elevator door. So that is why it’s time to fight back in this situation.

The first thing we should do after coming back home from the outside is to take a soap. Either liquid soap or soap bar and then repeatedly wash the hands. The six steps of handwashing are shown by WHO so wash our hands thoroughly for at least thirty to forty seconds. Now let’s discuss about what is the mechanism of the killing of the virus? It is very similar to the way we remove oil stain from our clothes. So in order to remove oil stain we put liquid detergent in the washing machine and what happens?

The oil stains are removed by the surfactants so the detergent molecules are also polar in nature. So detergent molecules literally pull out the dirt from the surface and put them nicely around it. Similar things happen in case of coronavirus so coronavirus is an enveloped RNA virus. Simply means it has a lipid coat. The lipid coat is very much similar to the oil droplets that extend our clothes. As well now in order to remove the lipid droplet, you can use soap or detergent. Now soap molecules are very similar to the lipid molecules because soap molecules also have a hydrophobic tail and hydrophilic head group.

What is Hydrophilic?

Hydrophilic means it is water-loving and it is water-hating. Now, this is the virus and when you wash your hands with soap water what happens? The hydrophobic tails are interacting with the hydrophobic tails of the phospholipid present in the viral envelope. And they are pretty happy with each other because they are interacting with hydrophobic interaction. Now some of these drops and soap take out phospholipids from the virus membrane and damage the virus envelope. Now you can understand while using soap and water for a long time the viral envelope can be severely damaged.

A damaged virus is not so efficient in terms of infecting so its virulence factor would be reduced. But this phenomena is only possible when you wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 to 30 seconds. Below that the cleansing mechanism won’t be efficient the exchanging of these phospholipids and moving that into them soap won’t be sufficient enough.

Times required for handwashing:

So it’s necessary that you wash your hand for at least 20 to 30 seconds beyond that is even better but that’s the minimum threshold. Now it is also true that these viruses are RNA viruses so if we dip our clothes or the things that we think that would be exposed to virus-like our clothes. While coming out or coming back from outside we need to dip it in boiling water. At least the temperature should be 60 degrees and above based is boiling water which would be 100 degrees.

We at that temperature the proteins or the spikes that are present on the outer surface of the virus would be denatured. So as the genetic material which is RNA it won’t be stable at that high temperature. Unfortunately, we cannot be a powerful hand in that boiling water because it would cause a bond. That’s why repeatedly handwashing with soap would be very efficient.


Keep an eye on the news channels and in this situation we cannot prevent it but we can know our enemy such that we can avoid our enemy. Educate people because education is the thing that we need. Education and awareness can really help us to cope up with this situation and try to bring safety to our family and in our friends. In this situation stay safe if you have more suggestions I would love to see in the comment box.


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