ISLAMABAD                -              Constantly being told to wash your hands. So we’re diving into the chemistry behind why soap is so effective against viruses like the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Dr. Thordarson says that hand soap ‘destabilizes non-covalent interactions that hold viruses together’ what he’s saying is that the components of a virus are just not that tightly bound to each other. So with covalent bonding, for instance the bonding that you would see between carbon atoms in a diamond, you have this sharing of electron pairs. And that makes for much stronger, stable bonds. But in the case of viruses, you have these non-covalent interactions, they’re much weaker, and they include things like hydrogen bonding and Van der Waals forces. When you add soap water, what happens there of course is that now we’ve got a solution full of amphiphilic molecules, whether they are synthetic or natural doesn’t really matter.

And they’ll start to exchange with the membrane, stick into the membrane, and when that happens, the membrane obviously would become less stable. In the meantime, keep washing your hands with soap and water. The CDC recommends spending at least 20 seconds doing so. And, most importantly, try to limit your contact with other people. The more that we’re around others, the more this virus has a chance to spread. So, stay safe, stay home if you can.