Why you should wash your hands with soap
Humans have used soap for cleansing as far back as Babylonian times, around 2800 BC. But what makes soap so effective at breaking down dirt and oil, leaving your skin feeling wonderfully cleansed and fresh? Read our explanation of how soap works and why you should always wash your hands with soap.
How soap works…..
Soap is a very effective hand and body cleanser. However, not only does it cleanse it also sanitises by destroying bacteria and viruses.
The purpose of washing is to remove the outer layer of oils and fats that harbour germs and rinse them away from the skin. This can only be done if we wash with something that can attach to fat molecules. Water alone cannot do this because it cannot attach itself to a fat molecule as oil and water do not mix.
However, if you take a fat oil and boil it up with an alkali a reaction happens. This is called saponification, which turns the mixture into soap.
What this reaction does is place a water-loving tail onto the fatty acid molecule. This is called soap and this molecule can attach to a water molecule and a fat molecule at the same time.
Therefore, when you wash with soap and water the soap molecules grab onto the fat molecules and pulls them off the skin into the rinse water. When your rinse the fat and germs are removed from the skin. Therefore, the main reason why soap cleanses and sanitises is it literally washes everything off the skin.
Soap works effectively at combating a virus. This is because soap molecules attach to the fatty molecules within a virus and rip it apart.
When you wash your hands always ensure that you dry them thoroughly so that no rinse water remains on the skin.