The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.

'Wash your hands like never before in your life': a chemist explained which soap is best for destroying viruses


Source: New Time

"Classic" solid soap "binds" the virus faster than liquid, the expert said New Time - chemist, technologist-developer of cosmetics Yulia Gagarina. Further - from the first person.

Photo: Shutterstock

As an expert chemist, I have said more than once: any soap is effective in the fight against coronavirus. The main thing is to wash your hands like never before in your life. It's like you've just peeled a jalapeno pepper and now have to put in a contact lens. The second version of this phrase was suggested by one of the Cologne clinic chains: "Wash your hands as if you had just chopped chili peppers, and now you are going to masturbate."

However, my confidence was shaken by the Japanese, sowing doubts ("not everything is so simple" in this chemistry) by a study conducted in 2018. I'll start with him.

The first story, Japanese: about which soap is the most soapy

Two universities, one company and an entire medical school are confused by the question of how best to stop epidemics and pandemics. In the bud, so to speak. In their comments to the study, it is written: they say, every year the flu is the same. And remembering the 1 H1N2009 pandemic and the threat of mutation of zooviruses, as was the case with the H5N1 avian flu, we must act proactively. The most effective way is to wash your hands. So let's test which of our cleaning components is the most effective.

The authors of the study took two classic components for liquid soap: SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulfate), SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) and one of the varieties of traditional soap (Potassium Oleate). And then we practiced with them on samples of human and bird flu. It turned out that the most effective hardcore is traditional soap making. There the pH is up to 9,5 and the presence of a special (-OH) group that gently "hugs" and washes away the virus. Somewhere the same, but weaker "embraces" the SLS virus, but SLES is a weakling. It works differently: with its “pick-tail” (lauric acid), it breaks open the lipid membrane of the virus and kills it. And a weakling because he does it slowly and sadly.

On the subject: How not to bring coronavirus into your home: 5 important tips from a US microbiologist

As a result, the authors state: we are cool, here is a patent. Buy a traditional soap, and to hell with it that with such a high pH level, frequent washing will make a dry cloth out of your skin. And one more important nuance. At the end of the article, two universities and one medical school honestly admit that they conducted a study for money and at the request of Shabondama Soap. But "they did honestly, the cross on the belly."

In spite of everything, I believe Japanese researchers, because earlier, in 2009, Pakistanis got similar results. They were all sad during the period of bird flu, because they did not think too much about the safety of poultry farms and their workers. But then they experimented a lot with disinfectants and found, among other things, that the alkaline environment of soap (pH 9 ... 11) and strong acids (pH 1 ... 3) work very cool. “Well then!” - I told myself, straightened my pince-nez and climbed to deal with soap further.

The second story, Australian: how the H1N1 influenza virus was “soaked” in different ways on volunteers

There was a cunning design of the experiment, which in 2009, Australian researchers put on medical volunteers. A horse dose of a live virus was applied to the subjects' hands, and then they figured out which antiseptics work best. Four products participated in the special race: three alcohol-based and a SLES-based soap. Hmm, unexpectedly, right? It’s just that in 2009 no one knew that SLES was a “weakling” according to the Japanese. According to the results of palm washes using the PCR method, the winners table was determined:

1. Liquid soap (SLES, pH 6) - 37,6 (the fastest in the four destroys the virus)

2. Gel with 70% isopropanol + 0,5% chlorhexidine - 35,7

3. Gel with 61,5% ethyl alcohol - 34,8

4. Gel with 70% ethyl alcohol + 0,5% chlorhexidine - 34,4

Just note: all the products were medical, intended for use in hospitals. Therefore, they included chlorhexidine, which is not at all against the influenza virus, but it protects against bacteria and spores.

There were several conclusions from this work:

  • if it is not possible to wash your hands, use an antiseptic / sanitizer;
  • the alcohol content of 60% —70% gives a comparable result (given the inaccuracy of the study);
  • it is difficult for medical workers to wash their hands with soap each time - it dries the skin, therefore it is better with alcohol (still: on average, after a 12-hour shift in the hospital, you need to sanitize your hands about a hundred times, what remains of them after soap?)

In addition, the researchers noticed that viruses “cling” worse to healthy skin (with an intact lipid layer). After that, they cautiously suggested that the environment of skin lipids for viruses is not very "cozy." But they made a reservation right away that it was necessary to further study this issue.

And a couple of years later the thesis “... but soap is better” was gracefully confirmed by Finnish scientists. They took a large sample of workers from various industries (more than 600 people) and divided them into three groups: a control group, treating hands with alcohol and washing them with soap. And we looked at how these groups cope with the seasonal flu. We were already waiting for the expected result: those who washed their hands with soap (regular, liquid, with SLES), were sick much less often.

On the subject: Hand sanitizer: what it is, how to use it correctly and how to replace it


1. Caesar is Caesar. Hand washing with liquid soap kills the influenza virus and most other viruses are more effective than alcohol-based sanitizers. Leave alcohol for hospitals, there it is needed.

2. Soapy hardcore. The "classic" soap making, all these olive / handmade variations ..., "bind" the virus faster than liquid soap. But to go to extremes - only laundry soap - is also not worth it, because from it the skin will become sick and unhappy. Without quotes.

3. What works for three pennies also works. Sulphate-based soap is an effective must-have for every day for the average consumer.

4. Soap for those suffering from atopic dermatitis, and other delicacies - also work. As the Australians showed, the healthier the protective barrier, the more difficult it is for the virus to “cling” to the skin.

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