The Power Of Soap

I wanted to touch upon the subject of soaps and hand washing.

The last time I was at the market, I got a lot of questions about Coronavirus and people asking if I made antibacterial soap. Understandably, we are all scared and confused and there has been mass panic to buy hand sanitiser, to the point where there is none left in the shops. 

The thing is, soap is naturally antibacterial anyway, but the key point is, coronavirus is a virus, it’s not a bacterial infection. One of my lovely customers, who is also a chemistry student explained very eloquently that handwashing with normal soap is effective at destroying Covid-19 cells, as the properties in soap breaks down the membrane of the virus’ cell

I read a really good piece in The Guardian on soap, which prompted me to write this blog, written by Pall Thordarson who is a Professor in Chemistry at the University of New South Wales and I wanted to share an extract as I think it will help settle some of the worries I’ve been hearing lately. 

The science of soap

Professor Thordarson writes: “So why does soap work so well on the Sars-CoV-2, the coronavirus and indeed most viruses? The short story: because the virus is a self-assembled nanoparticle in which the weakest link is the lipid (fatty) bilayer. Soap dissolves the fat membrane and the virus falls apart like a house of cards and dies – or rather, we should say it becomes inactive as viruses aren’t really alive.” 

The quote above is great to answer another question I have been getting lately, ‘Can the virus live on the surface of soap?’ Professor Thordarson’s explanation highlights that soap effectively obliterates the virus cells when it comes into contact with them.

Talking about soap and alcohol gel, Professor Thordarson continues: “But soap is better because you only need a fairly small amount of soapy water, which, with rubbing, covers your entire hand easily. Whereas you need to literally soak the virus in ethanol for a brief moment, and wipes or rubbing a gel on the hands does not guarantee that you soak every corner of the skin on your hands effectively enough.” 


I am not a scientist and I cannot claim to give medical advice, but it is clear that frequent hand washing is necessary and if you are out and about, then hand sanitiser is a good substitute when it is not practical to wash hands with soap and water.

Of course, it is wonderful to see so many people discovering the many benefits of natural handmade soap, kinder to skin thanks to the gentle ingredients. Also, with the increased use of soap bars there will be less plastic being consumed, making it a much more environmentally friendly alternative to soap in plastic bottles and wrapping, something which is extremely important to us here and one of our main drivers as a business.

Stay safe everyone and keep those hands clean. For anyone interested, here is the link to the Guardian article:

Much love

Clare @ Skyn Bakery x