March 6, 2020 — The single most important piece of advice health experts can give to help us stay safe from COVID-19 is this one: Wash your hands.
“In the final analysis, it’s the hands. The hands are the connecting piece,” says Elizabeth Scott, PhD. Scott co-directs the Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community at Simmons University in Boston.
“You can’t necessarily control what you touch. You can’t control who else touched it. But you can look after your own hands,” she says.
Scott says it works on two fronts: “The first thing that’s happening is that you’re physically removing things from your hands. At the same time, for certain agents, the soap will actually be busting open that agent, breaking it apart.”
Coronaviruses, like this year’s version that has left 100,000 worldwide infected with COVID-19, are encased in a lipid envelope — basically, a layer of fat. Soap can break that fat apart and make the virus unable to infect you.
The second thing soap