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Why 20 seconds?

The science behind washing your hands for 20 seconds!

Health officials tell us to wash our hands for at least 20-seconds or longer – Why? The real quick answer is that it takes about 20 seconds for the soap to get a rich lather and you get every inch of your hand covered in that lather before rinsing it off. Why does that matter? Well, it’s the lather created by the soap that destroys the virus and washes it down the drain.  Let’s look at the science behind these magical soap suds. In a soap lather, a combination of molecules make-up the bubbles. These bubbles, or the lather, trap viral matter. The lather contains molecules with two ends – a hydrophilic one (likes water) and a hydrophobic one (hates water). Think about adding olive oil to water, the oil pools and doesn’t mix. When you add soap, the oil will disperse. That is because the soap is attracted to the grease via the fat loving end, and actually tears it apart and pulls it into the water via its water loving side. The COVID-19 virus is not a living organism, but a protein molecule covered by a protective layer of lipid (fat). The lather of the soap breaks down the fat that protects the protein. When the fat layer is dissolved, the protein molecule disperses and breaks down on its own. And that is why the CDC recommends you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.

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