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Does a hand sanitizer really effective to kill viruses?


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When people say that hand sanitizer “kills” viruses, they mean “speaking” colloquially, not scientifically.

A virus isn’t technically alive. It has no metabolism, takes in no resources or food, and cannot reproduce on its own. If you want to be accurate, a virus can be inactivated or destroyed, but not killed.

It’s easier to say “killed,” though, and people know what you mean. Rendered non-infectious.

This is a picture of a coronavirus (Wikipedia), the pink, green and blue blobs represent proteins. These are used to latch onto cells and inject the viruses genes into a cell (the yellow coil), where it takes over and manufactures more viruses.

The red shell is a tiny bubble made of fat, like a little soap bubble….. soap is good at dissolving fats and bursts the viruses envelope disrupting and inactivating it.

70% alcohol is about the sweet spot for disinfection, a weaker solution is not strong enough to kill microorganisms, a stronger solution evaporates too quickly to have its full effect.

Alcohol works by dehydrating by Osmosis. (simply put the water in a cell or virus tries to ‘dilute’ the alcohol solution surrounding it). This disrupts the envelope and damages the coat proteins needed to infect a cell.


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RELATED: How does hand washing kill viruses and germs?

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