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What's the point of washing your hands?
At this particular time of year, if you have always wondered how soap washes, here is some reading about it. Don't let your guard down, a simple gesture, washing your hands with soap is a way to protect yourself, and also to protect those you love. We all hear it all the time, but below we really explain why it's so important.
What is soap?
If you look at it very closely, you can see that soap is made up of molecules all along! And very special shapes! At one of their ends is a carboxylate group. The structure of this group is round and constitutes what we can call the "head" of the soap molecule. It is hydrophilic, i.e. it "likes" water.
At the other end, there is a hydrocarbon chain that constitutes the "tail" of the molecule. This one is lipophilic: it "likes" greasy substances... that is to say dirt.
How does soap wash?
So the head of the molecule likes water but not fat. Whereas the tail of the molecule is the opposite, it likes fat but not water. We are talking about surface-active properties.
When we rub our hands with soap: the tails of the molecules immediately surround the fatty dirt and trap it in structures called micelles (spheres), whose outer surface is hydrophilic.
Once the dirt is trapped, and hands are rinsed with tap water, the micelle is dragged along by the water flow, removing the dirt! This is how soap washes!
Soap and viruses: the fight!
Viruses and bacterias are enveloped by a lipidic membrane (fat), in contact with soap... therefore they get trapped by the tail of the soap molecule like dirt! Thus, they are evacuated with the washing water ... thanks to the action of the soap molecule!
Soap or hydro-alcoholic gel: the debate!
The most effective way to limit contamination is soap! But in the absence of a water point, the use of hydro-alcoholic gel is recommended to avoid the spread of the disease.