Soap and Coronavirus: What you Need to Know

From the day I started Little Soap Company, the aim has always been “to make pure, natural soap accessible to all” and this is the reason why we all get out of bed in the morning to ensure this happens – but right now that simple aim has turned into a crucial key role in supplying all the major retailers with soap as of one of the essentials we each need to fight the spread of Covid-19 Coronavirus.

In the quietness of an early Sunday morning, I thought I’d share five key messages (with links if you want to dive deeper) as we enter week two of lock down…

1. The role of soap in the Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic

Soap helps prevent the spread of germs. In fact, soap can actually be more efficient than anti-bac or alcohol-based hand sanitisers when it comes to keeping our hands clean – and, indeed, fighting off the Covid-19 Coronavirus too. Read on to find out why.

Normal World Health Organisation (WHO) advice is to wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after meals, before and after leaving the house or being outside and regularly in-between to protect against infection and this campaign has been stepped up globally in the fight against Covid-19.

2. Be aware of information overload! 

The virus “is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.” The CDC cites two primary forms of transmission: “Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) [and] through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.”

Hence the recommended 2m social distancing, regular hand washing, and regularly wiping down with a soapy spritz high-touch areas as the best measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

However, as well as this being a pandemic we are also amid an info-demic which can be overwhelming to sort through conflicting and often confusing questions and information about personal hygiene, washing, cleaning and disinfecting in relation to the spread of the coronavirus. Should we suddenly now disinfect our groceries? The post? What about packages and delivery items coming into the home? What are deemed high touch points to regularly wipe down – and with what? Firstly – remember the virus is thought to spread person to person so don’t get lost down rabbit holes online suggesting you need to bleach your mail and clothes (you don’t!). Bearing these points in mind this is a useful American article addressing all the above in a belt and braces way.

My advice though, quite simply: keep things clean and be more diligent (a reminder that we should be all the time but until now had perhaps previously lost sight of)

3. Do I need soap, handwash, anti-bac or sanitiser spray or gel?

As Pall Thordarson starts his piece in last weeks GuardianViruses can be active outside the body for hours, even days. Disinfectants, liquids, wipes, gels and creams containing alcohol are all useful at getting rid of them – but they are not quite as good as normal soap”. 

Yes, soap and water works! The only reason to use sanitising gels, etc. is in a medical setting or the jungle or places where soap and fresh water isn’t readily accessibly. You really don’t need to rush to buy hand (now overpriced) sanitisers. Leave those for the health professionals who are working around the clock and can’t get to a sink every 20 minutes. Those of us at home or work can wash safely at a sink whenever we want.

It’s a known fact after prolonged use alcohol based products can be drying and problematic… already just a week in our social media and email inboxes are full of people asking advice and would our bars help their now cracked, rashy and sore hands… in a word YES, our bars retain the naturally recurring glycerine so are naturally moisturising and won’t strip the skin as well as do the job needed.

4. Sciencey bit about why soap is the most effective for infection control

Based on soap science (and declared by the BMJ  and FDA) plain old fashioned back to basics, granny’s recipe soap is perfect to do the job so don’t be swayed by thinking you need special “added” antibacterial additives to be effective.

The reason soap is used for personal hygiene and to prevent illnesses is simply because soapy water destabilises the virus components holding the coronavirus (or any other virus) together and totally removes it from your skin.

“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.

Soap contains fat-like substances known as amphiphiles, some of which are structurally very similar to the lipids in the virus membrane. The soap molecules “compete” with the lipids in the virus membrane. This is more or less how soap also removes normal dirt from the skin.

The soap not only loosens the “glue” between the virus and the skin but also the Velcro-like interactions that hold the proteins, lipids and RNA in the virus together.”    (Pall Thordarsen, The Guardian.

Great Ted Ed film here on the science of this for the geeks amongst us.

5. Bar is best… for you and the planet

So by choosing an organic or high percentage natural bar soap without the unnecessary synthetics in them means you will get an added aromatherapy boost if fragranced with essential oils, any with the naturally occurring glycerine left in will leave your hands moisturised (not stripped) too –  in essence any of our bar soaps in any of the ranges…

On top – our products are all made in England – always have been and always will be as I passionately believe we need to keep jobs here and keep Britain manufacturing. This is why we have been able to maintain production so well to the supermarkets over the past couple of weeks. The reason it’s just been our soap on many of the shelves is because our supply chain is so simple.

A bar of soap is going to last a lot longer than a bottle of hand wash so works out far cheaper over time too. Moreover we have zero plastic throughout our whole supply chain on our bars – both the cartons and outer cases on the shelves are recycled/recyclable cardboard (no shrink wrap). So you’re not only saving money but reducing plastic and landfill waste as well as helping to protect yourself and others too.