The COVID-19 outbreak is causing us all to make changes. For example, we are having to pay more attention to hand washing and social distancing. We will get through this, but diligence is key until COVID-19 is behind us. Accordingly, we wanted to publish a blog post to remind readers to wash their hands frequently.
In some of our past blogs, we discussed options like hand washing versus hand sanitizers and installing towel dispensers instead of forced air hand dryers. What we wrote in those posts is as true today as it was when we first published them. However, because of COVID-19, the information is now more important than ever.
Viruses Are Molecules
Many people misunderstand viruses’ biological structure. Viruses are not independent, living organisms in the same sense as bacteria. Rather, viruses are actually nucleic acid molecules surrounded by a protective protein coat. This is why antibiotics do not work against them.
Some antibiotics destroy bacteria’s cell walls, while others inhibit bacteria from reproducing and spreading. But because viruses are not living organisms and do not have the same molecular structure as bacteria, antibiotics are useless against them.
Defeating a virus is all about destroying the protein coat so that the molecule itself breaks down. This method works for a whole host of reasons, not least of which is the fact that a virus is only able to multiply within the cells of another living creature. A virus cannot multiply any other way.
Hand Washing Breaks Down the Molecules
Health experts constantly tell us to wash our hands because this is the most effective way to defeat viruses. Whether it is COVID-19 or another virus, hand washing breaks down virus molecules by separating them from their protein coats.
Hand soap is a surfactant. What does that mean? It means that it breaks the bonds that hold two surfaces together. This allows water to get between two surfaces and wash away whatever is undesirable. As a surfactant, hand soap breaks the bond between a virus molecule and its protective coat. The protective coat is washed away and the molecule is destroyed.
The key to effective hand washing is to lather. Hand soap’s effectiveness as a surfactant is improved by a combination of lathering and hot water. This is why we are told to wash our hands with soap and hot water AND to scrub for at least 20 seconds. You need that much time to lather up and allow the soap to do its job.
Better Than Hand Sanitizer
Let’s close with a reminder that hand washing is better than using a hand sanitizer in fighting viruses. We reported on this topic last year after studies showed how much more effective hand washing is. Thus, we recommend washing hands regularly to provide the best defense against COVID-19.
When the only option is hand sanitizer, it is best to use a product with an alcohol content of at least 60%. Hand sanitizers with an alcohol content of up to 95% are even better. However, no hand sanitizer should be a complete replacement for hand washing.
We will eventually get through the COVID-19 crisis. When it’s all over, our hope is that the lessons learned will not soon be forgotten. We plan to continue encouraging our customers to promote hand washing among their employees. We also plan to continue providing washroom supplies to keep your employees and customers healthy.
Stay safe, everyone!