Does Soap Kill Germs?

Soap + water + paper towel = Excellent!

Soap + water + paper towel = Excellent!

Soap has existed a really long time. We’re talking about as far back as 2800BC, that’s approximately 4800 years ago. The ancient Egyptians had soap, but to be honest at that time it was more like a prototype of soap. It wasn’t the kind of soap you go to buy at the supermarket today (It’s true, trust me). It was a more basic type of soap.

So why on Earth am I sitting here writing about soap? Haven’t I got anything better to do on a saturday?

That’s a very, very… very good question… as the title says I want to tell you whether or not soap kill germs. Don’t tell me you haven’t thought about it too (no? …you haven’t? well.. I’m going to tell you anyway).

Soap doesn’t actually work the way you think it does. It does in fact not kill the germs. All it does is loosen the scary germs off our hands, and the water then washes them off. At least some of them.

hand-washing-101_50574a7eb0a8a_w1500Research done in 2008 by the University of Westminister shows that drying your hands afterwards is just as, if not more, important than the actual hand washing. The study showed that drying your hands with a paper towel decreased  bacteria on your hands and fingertips by 76-77% (that’s a lot, nearly every germ found on your hands were removed). Compared to drying them with one of those high-tech air dryers the bacteria increased  by 194-254% (!!!). That pretty much doubles the number of germs on your hands. So there is no point using the air dryers after a hand wash. You might as well just leave it if you have no other option.

Washing your hands is a critical point in disease prevention, just like your mother told you (she is a wise woman). If everybody washed their hands, the amount of diseases and deaths in the world would definitely go down. A well executed hand wash should last for at least 20 seconds. Many people also forget to wash their thumbs and top of their hands (are you guilty?).

To your left I’ve provided you with an exciting and colorful infographics. Just to spice things up a bit, because I could not find a single video on hand washing worth watching (can you believe that?).

Click on the picture it to make it bigger. Enjoy!

6 thoughts on “Does Soap Kill Germs?

  1. This is very interesting. I have a part time job at a Supermarket and we constantly have to wash are hands. We use the air dryer instead of paper towels; i guess it’s not as clean as they think.

    • No, it most definitely is not. As the evidence suggests, you pretty much double the ammount of bacteria found on your hands if you use the air dryer. So keep that in mind the next time you’re at work ;)

  2. Just so you know, that study you referenced only had 20 participants, was funded by the European Textile Services Association, and was not actually published by a journal. Their results were duplicated by other researchers, but it’s probably not entirely unbiased.
    Also, you have a typo… It should be, “Research done in 2008…”, not “A research done in 2008…”.

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