If you are a clean freak then this is a question that you really want to know. Does soap really kill 99.9% of germs? With over one hundred million germs just lingering on our smartphones, we really want to be able to rest easy knowing that we can just simply wash our hands.
A germ consists of any sort of little organism or microscopic particle that is able to make our body sick. This means that viruses and bacteria are also considered to be germs. Germ spreading has become such a worldwide concern that there are even movements to stop handshakes. Handshakes being one of the worst offenders when it comes to spreading infectious diseases. The solution? Stop handshaking and start fist bumping.
The problem is that thanks to all the oils on our skin, dirt, and germs easily latch on and just stick to our skin. If you use an alcohol solvent or kerosene that actually destroys the oil this will also kill the germs. But most soaps are not alcohol based? So how do they work?
That is correct, unless you are in a hospital you will find most soaps do not have any strong alcohol in them. Also, a strong alcohol or kerosene are essentially toxins, so we do not really want to be washing our hands with them every day. And that is why we use soap.
Soap works in a different way, instead of trying to completely dissolve the oil, it just tells them to leap off with the water molecules. You can think of soap as like a rope with a hook on both ends, it latches onto the oily germs and the other side likes to latch onto the water. So when you wash your hands? That is right, the oily germs just slide right off. This means all the germs and bacteria you pick up during your day are flushed right off.
Therefore soap is not really killing any germs at all, it is just flushing them away. And that 0.01% of germs it misses? Well, that is still actually a lot of bacteria. Take the smartphone problem, if you washed it and washed your hands, you are still looking at about 2,500 germs being left! That is more germs than you would find in a dog’s watering bowl.
Should you stress about it? Not really, you are not going to be able to kill every bacteria that you run into. But as long as you are washing your hands regularly and cleaning your devices, it should all be kept under control.