Madeline Marshall Watch: How soap kills the coronavirus

Plain old soap and water absolutely annihilate coronavirus.

You’ve been told the same thing a million times: The best way to prevent the spread of coronavirus is to wash your hands.

It’s true. But why?

It’s because soap — regular soap, fancy honeysuckle soap, artisan soap, just any soap — absolutely annihilates viruses. It has to do with how the soap molecules interact with the virus.

Soap is made up of two-sided molecules. One side is attracted to water; the other side is attracted to fat. And viruses are made up of material surrounded by a coating of proteins and fat. When viruses interact with soap, that fat coating gets ripped out by the soap molecules. Soap literally demolishes viruses.

Of course, it takes time for this effect to happen: 20 seconds, to be specific.

Wash the video above to learn how this process works or read more from senior science reporter Brian Resnick.

You can find this video and all of Vox’s videos on YouTube. And if you’re interested in supporting our video journalism, you can become a member of the Vox Video Lab on YouTube.

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