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2020-05-12

The power of soap in the fight against the coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic has put the humble bar of soap centre stage globally. Despite increased calls for sanitisers, according to both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and health experts around the world, soap is one of the most effective deterrents against the coronavirus.


| Sanitouch

The reason for this is that the coronavirus – like many viruses – is a self-assembled nanoparticle with a fatty bilayer. Soap dissolves the fat membrane of the virus which renders it inactive which is why health professionals and governments around the world have been so insistent on the need for regularly washing hands with soap.

Water on its own is typically not sufficient to destroy viruses. When soap and water are combined, however, the soap molecules essentially dissolve the ‘glue’ that holds the virus together.

It is only when soap and water are not an option that health professionals advise using sanitising disinfectants, gels, alcohol-based wipes and other sanitising products containing alcohol. The WHO’s recommended formulations for a hand rub and surface disinfectant to counter the coronavirus – or Covid-19 – is either 80% ethanol or 70% isopropanol. Lower amounts of ethanol or other types of alcohol are less effective at disrupting the virus. However, most antibacterial products contain alcohol and some soap which together are effective in destroying the coronavirus.

Some retailers have called for the amount of alcohol in trolley wipes, typically found at the entrance of supermarkets, to be increased. However, it would be impossible for trolley wipes to include 70 to 80% alcohol as they would simply dry out too fast, points out Annette Devenish, marketing director at Infection Protection Products, the manufacturers of Sani-touch products, including Saniwipes.

“Trolley wipes are manufactured with a tried and tested detergent disinfectant solution with a high and potent soap content which renders the coronavirus inactive which means they don’t require a higher alcohol content,” says Devenish. “In fact, in their current form, and if they are used correctly, they contain more than sufficient disinfectant to remove any bacteria or viruses. 

This is due to the fact that the wipes contain sufficient soap to coat the virus, with the inclusion of alcohol as an added deterrent.”

Disinfectant and sanitiser manufacturers around the country have been battling to meet increased demand, both as a result of a sporadic supply of alcohol as well as a shortage of other raw materials.


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