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Are there any chemists among us? Can someone help me understand this?

It turns out that real "soap" is, chemically, a very specific thing which breaks apart oil and fat. Real soap actually kills the virus. Other things, like Dove bars, are not real soap.

The COVID-19 virus, like most viruses, is coated in fat / oil. Real soap is designed to grab onto the fats and break them apart, so it destroys the virus. A bit of scrubbing and you not only destroy the virus, but also wash it away.


Here's my question: when buying a product, like a liquid hand soap, or dishwashing detergent ... how can I evaluate whether it is a REAL soap? I obviously want the substances which can kill this virus.

I've been hand washing my cloth masks using Ivory dishwashing liquid. Is this a real soap? Will it kill the virus?

The above article says that sodium laureth sulfate is a common soap, and I see this in my liquid hand soaps. But my dishwashing liquid doesn't show ingredients. Does anyone know if dishwashing liquid, and laundry detergent, are real soaps?
 

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Are there any chemists among us? Can someone help me understand this?

It turns out that real "soap" is, chemically, a very specific thing which breaks apart oil and fat. Real soap actually kills the virus. Other things, like Dove bars, are not real soap.

The COVID-19 virus, like most viruses, is coated in fat / oil. Real soap is designed to grab onto the fats and break them apart, so it destroys the virus. A bit of scrubbing and you not only destroy the virus, but also wash it away.


Here's my question: when buying a product, like a liquid hand soap, or dishwashing detergent ... how can I evaluate whether it is a REAL soap? I obviously want the substances which can kill this virus.

I've been hand washing my cloth masks using Ivory dishwashing liquid. Is this a real soap? Will it kill the virus?

The above article says that sodium laureth sulfate is a common soap, and I see this in my liquid hand soaps. But my dishwashing liquid doesn't show ingredients. Does anyone know if dishwashing liquid, and laundry detergent, are real soaps?
Have you looked up (via google) the ingredients for Dove or Ivory dishwashing soap to see if they contain sodium laureth sulfate?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Have you looked up (via google) the ingredients for Dove or Ivory dishwashing soap to see if they contain sodium laureth sulfate?
The one I have is "Ivory Concentrated Dishwashing Liquid" and I can't find an exact match for that product name at Proctor & Gamble's web site. I'm surprised it's so hard to find its ingredients, and even after googling around for a while, I can't find an ingredient list.

So no... I don't know what's in my dishwashing liquid. I might phone the number listed on the bottle to inquire. Various articles on the internet say that Ivory dishwashing liquid does contain sodium laureth sulfate, but these are unreliable sources like message forums.

The dish soap does tackle grease, which is the whole point of the diswashing liquid. Does that mean it's guaranteed to have the chemical properties which kill the virus?

Or if anyone knows, please share. What kind of soap or detergent should be used when cleaning masks, so that the viruses are killed by the chemical process described in the linked article?
 

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The one I have is "Ivory Concentrated Dishwashing Liquid" and I can't find an exact match for that product name at Proctor & Gamble's web site. I'm surprised it's so hard to find its ingredients, and even after googling around for a while, I can't find an ingredient list.

So no... I don't know what's in my dishwashing liquid. I might phone the number listed on the bottle to inquire. Various articles on the internet say that Ivory dishwashing liquid does contain sodium laureth sulfate, but these are unreliable sources like message forums.

The dish soap does tackle grease, which is the whole point of the diswashing liquid. Does that mean it's guaranteed to have the chemical properties which kill the virus?

Or if anyone knows, please share. What kind of soap or detergent should be used when cleaning masks, so that the viruses are killed by the chemical process described in the linked article?
I would think anything that cuts grease Would be effective Against c19. I’m not a fan of the word “kills”.......my research shows that soap allows the virus (and obviously dirt and other oils) to break down, which in turn allows it to be washed away down the drain. Interested to see more research.

what if you lathered up your hands, didn’t rinse them and allowed your hands to dry.....I would think the virus is still there, although probably less potent.

It’s my understanding that the alcohol based liquids and gels do actually kill the virus. I’ve used alcohol to euthanize tropical fish.
 

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The one I have is "Ivory Concentrated Dishwashing Liquid" and I can't find an exact match for that product name at Proctor & Gamble's web site. I'm surprised it's so hard to find its ingredients, and even after googling around for a while, I can't find an ingredient list.

So no... I don't know what's in my dishwashing liquid. I might phone the number listed on the bottle to inquire. Various articles on the internet say that Ivory dishwashing liquid does contain sodium laureth sulfate, but these are unreliable sources like message forums.

The dish soap does tackle grease, which is the whole point of the diswashing liquid. Does that mean it's guaranteed to have the chemical properties which kill the virus?

Or if anyone knows, please share. What kind of soap or detergent should be used when cleaning masks, so that the viruses are killed by the chemical process described in the linked article?
we have a variety of masks but use white cotton ones from Staples. These go in with the “whites” and get cleaned with bleach. My other masks get hand washed with dish soap.
we have about 20 masks on rotation and leave the house 2-3 Times a week. I’m hopeful that even a “dirty” mask would be safe if allowed to completely dry and be left unused for one week. I’m not too focused on the soap used.
 

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I would think anything that cuts grease Would be effective Against c19. I’m not a fan of the word “kills”.......my research shows that soap allows the virus (and obviously dirt and other oils) to break down, which in turn allows it to be washed away down the drain. Interested to see more research.
... +1 with the logic (to me) dictates that "washing" your hands and everything else will "get rid" (ie. flush away) the bugs, dirt, et al. That's why researchers are very interested in studying sewer water - to check for the virus(es) and everything else.

what if you lathered up your hands, didn’t rinse them and allowed your hands to dry.....I would think the virus is still there, although probably less potent.
... ok I get it's an experiment but still yicky.

It’s my understanding that the alcohol based liquids and gels do actually kill the virus. I’ve used alcohol to euthanize tropical fish.
... this is sad, if not cruel.

I think "heat" from the dryer/tumbler for 30 minutes will also kill the virus(es). I use sunshine to dry disinfect my clothes as it's alot cheaper.
 

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All soap products work with the same principle as described on OP article: you have a hydrophilic head and hydrophobic tail with the particles interacting with the virus covering, disrupting it and exposing the interior to the environment. So, I'm not sure what you mean by "real" soap. They may use different chemicals, but the mechanism is the same.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Good news if they all do that. There are some chemical classifications, such as soap and detergent, and I don't know much about chemistry which is why I'm asking.

Regarding "kills" the virus. I want to emphasize again that this is not just a matter of breaking up dirt and grime and washing it off the hands (which is what I previously thought as well). Proper soap -- the stuff that breaks up fat/oil -- does appear to actually kill the virus by destroying the exterior. As @bgc_fan says.

Does laundry detergent do the same thing as well?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
what if you lathered up your hands, didn’t rinse them and allowed your hands to dry.....I would think the virus is still there, although probably less potent.
If it is in fact soap, the stuff that breaks up oil and fat, then I would think this does kill the virus. Obviously washing off is best but it sounds to me like lathering your hands in soap kills various viruses.

It’s my understanding that the alcohol based liquids and gels do actually kill the virus. I’ve used alcohol to euthanize tropical fish.
I think all the health authorities say that washing hands with soap is actually more effective. I think it's because soap actually kills the virus, AND you're washing all the junk off your hands.

With hand sanitizer gel, I think there is concern about whether enough alcohol (the only effective part) is hitting the viruses. Plus, you're not rinsing them off the hands. I think to properly use hand sanitizer gel you have to apply very generously and rub vigorously, to make sure the alcohol gets everywhere.

From everything I've read, soap & water is superior.
 

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Good news if they all do that. There are some chemical classifications, such as soap and detergent, and I don't know much about chemistry which is why I'm asking.

Regarding "kills" the virus. I want to emphasize again that this is not just a matter of breaking up dirt and grime and washing it off the hands (which is what I previously thought as well). Proper soap -- the stuff that breaks up fat/oil -- does appear to actually kill the virus by destroying the exterior. As @bgc_fan says.

Does laundry detergent do the same thing as well?
Ah, I didn't catch that was the difference that you were asking. My bad.

So there is a difference between soap and detergent: Simple Science | Difference Between Soap and Detergent

Detergent is what @Money172375 and @Beaver101 were referring to when talking about simply washing away dirt and grime. All detergent does is make the dirt easier to remove from surfaces, not necessarily treat it.

CDC has some guidelines on washing: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Personally, in absence of bleach, I would consider hand soap to be usable.

When it comes to laundry disinfection, I suspect it is the high heat rather than the detergent that is killing the virus.
 

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The first line of defense against the virus is to get rid of the masks. Your immune system kills the virus. Though if your deprived of oxygen from wearing a mask your immune system does not work properly. Plus the virus accumulates on the inside of the mask making matters worse.
 

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I am not a chemist. But my understanding is that hand washing will get rid of the viral particles. Whether they are inactivated or not is probably less important, since they would end up going down the drain with the soap and water. The soap will not sit on your hands once you rinse it, so there is likely minimal residual antiviral benefit. For the same reason antibacterial soaps are not superior to regular ones. If you would like to have an extra layer of protection, then applying alcohol or alcohol-based hand sanitizer after washing may do it. But good old hand washing still rules the day.
 

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I am not a chemist, also. Thanks for mentioning "sodium laureth sulfate" - interesting. I can try to remember as many chemical names as I can. It is a common soap. Hopefully store clerks can know which soaps actually kill the virus. Thanks. I will try to look up more chemistry.

Good luck to people that failed chemistry class. It is really one of the hardest classes.
 

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According to this article on CBC, both soap and detergent will kill the virus.


A more authoritative source is the BC CDC, who says the same thing:
 
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