We know we’re supposed to be washing our hands frequently… but how many seconds do we really need to scrub? Do we need to use anti-bacterial soap? We answer your burning questions here.
1. Do I really need to wash my hands for 20 seconds?
Yes — here’s why:
2. Should I use anti-bacterial soap?
Anti-bacterial soap and regular soap are equally effective. We use soap to kill coronavirus because soap — any soap — removes the fatty coating that surrounds and protects the virus. Without this coating, the virus dies. Soap molecules surround the dead virus in a sort of lethal hug, and when you rinse your hands off, both the soap and virus get washed away. (The same thing happens with dirt when you wash your hands — the soap molecules hug the dirt and carry it away off your hands. If it’s anything other than water, soap molecules will find it, hug it, and remove it from your hands.)
3. Why do I need to scrub?
When you scrub your hands with soap, you create friction that helps lift the virus from the surface of your hands. This makes it easier for the soap molecules to surround the virus and remove its fatty coating, and it helps ensure the virus is washed off of your hands.
4. Does hand sanitiser work as well as soap?
Hand sanitiser works in a similar way as soap — the alcohol removes the fatty coating that surrounds the virus. But it does not do a good job of removing the virus — or any other particles — from your hands, and it does not work against viruses and bacteria that don’t have a fatty coating. So hand sanitiser is an okay alternative in the case of coronavirus, but in general scrubbing with soap is your best option. Make sure your hand sanitiser has at least 60% alcohol content, though — less than this and it won’t work.
5. Is it all a waste if I use my clean hands to turn the faucet off?
Yes it is all a waste then! Don’t do that! If you turned the faucet ON with hands that had the virus on them, the virus will still be on the faucet when you go to turn it off. So it if you turn the faucet off with your hands, you’ll have virus on your hands again. Instead, use your elbow or a cloth that you know is clean.