Why Is Washing Your Hands So Important, Anyway? | Science | Smithsonian Magazine

Done properly, this process accomplishes several virus-taming tasks. First, the potent trifecta of lathering, scrubbing and rinsing “physically removes pathogens from your skin,” says Shirlee Wohl, a virologist and epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University.

In many ways, soap molecules are ideal for the task at hand. Soap can incapacitate SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses that have an outer coating called an envelope, which helps the pathogens latch onto and invade new cells. Viral envelopes and soap molecules both contain fatty substances that tend to interact with each other when placed in close proximity, breaking up the envelopes and incapacitating the pathogen. “Basically, the viruses become unable to infect a human cell,” Permar says.
— Read on www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/why-washing-your-hands-so-important-anyway-180974355/