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Thread: Could this be a Superior Substitute for Hand Sanitizer?

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    Supporting Member rgsparber's Avatar
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    Could this be a Superior Substitute for Hand Sanitizer?

    Finding hand sanitizer at this time of COVID-19 has been impossible. The CDC advises against making it at home. Besides, they say that washing with soap and water is better. This does make sense to me because the virusís enclosure is made of a lipid which is dissolved by soap and water. Without the lipid, the contents spill harmlessly out.

    I understand that I must wet my hands, add some soap, and scrub for 20 seconds. This physical action plus the chemical reaction between soap, water, and lipid, is effective at destroying any virus on my hands. Rinsing then flushes away the soap and virus bits.

    I figure that the important part is to destroy the virus. Rinsing, although desirable, is not essential to my health.

    What if I carried a small squeeze bottle filled with a mixture of soap and water? The ratio of soap to water would be such that it foams for 20 seconds the same way as wetting my hands and applying soap. When done, rinse if a source of clean water is available. But if not, wouldnít my hands still be virus free?

    I sure would like to hear from a healthcare professional.

    Rick
    Rick

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    Supporting Member jdurand's Avatar
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    If you want/need to conserve soap, and happen to have liquid hand soap handy, you can mix it 1 part soap to 4 parts water (+/- a bit) to use in one of the foam soap dispensers. Works great. I've been using a jug of Dr Bronner's liquid soap for quite some time, at one ounce of soap per bottle of soap foam it's lasting a LONG time.

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    Supporting Member Crusty's Avatar
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    Get some CleanWell foaming hand cleaner. It cleans well (really does) without any affect to the skin that I've seen in years of use. Its active biological ingredient thymol (thyme oil) is as effective as bleach without the downsides of bleach and is also the active ingredient in Listerine.

    I use a 10% bleach/water mixture in a spray bottle for general sanitizing of things which have come from the outside world, but it has to be recharged every 24 hours because the chlorine is mostly gone by then.
    If you can't make it precise make it adjustable.

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    I had a severe sinus infection from Nov 2019 through Jan 2020, and I had to go to a specialist to get it cleared up with a 3rd round of antibiotics.
    According that doctor, it's actually the rinsing action that gets rid of the virus down the sink. The soap doesn't actually kill the virus (any kind), it just lifts it off the skin so it can be rinsed away.
    It's for that reason that hand sanitizer's are a bit of a joke... you're just smearing the bad stuff around...yes, it likely kills a decent amount of bacteria, but certainly not everything, and maybe not the really bad stuff.
    So... wash your hands with soap and water, and avoid touching anywhere on your face if you can't wash right away, and minimizing touching surfaces that are exposed to multiple people.

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    Supporting Member rgsparber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KustomsbyKent View Post
    I had a severe sinus infection from Nov 2019 through Jan 2020, and I had to go to a specialist to get it cleared up with a 3rd round of antibiotics.
    According that doctor, it's actually the rinsing action that gets rid of the virus down the sink. The soap doesn't actually kill the virus (any kind), it just lifts it off the skin so it can be rinsed away.
    It's for that reason that hand sanitizer's are a bit of a joke... you're just smearing the bad stuff around...yes, it likely kills a decent amount of bacteria, but certainly not everything, and maybe not the really bad stuff.
    So... wash your hands with soap and water, and avoid touching anywhere on your face if you can't wash right away, and minimizing touching surfaces that are exposed to multiple people.
    Small world. I too had a severe sinus infection around that time. I've had such infections on and off for 60 years. My last doctor explained that due to all of that scar tissue in my sinuses, I have poor circulation. This means that the antibiotic is slow to arrive on site. He put me on Cipro for 3 weeks and it did the trick. It also caused temporary weakness in various tendons. Four months later, I'm almost back to normal with my tendons.

    I too have been told that soap and water simply flush germs away and don't kill many of them.

    It is my understanding that the coronavirus is enclosed in a lipid and will fall apart on contact with water and soap. I found many references in the popular press but not at cdc.gov so I have no proof it is true.

    The CDC does say that washing with soap and water for 20 seconds is best but using a hand sanitizer is recommended for health workers (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019...giene-faq.html) because it won't tear up the hands as much and is effective. I expect that these people also wear gloves when touching a patient with COVID-19.

    If soap and water are just physically moving the virus, then my proposed approach is not good. But if the soap and water kills the virus, there is no harm in leaving it on my skin until I can get to rinse water.

    Rick
    Rick

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    Supporting Member JoeVanGeaux's Avatar
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    The formula should read soap, warm water and... time (of course, it helps if the time is used for moderately vigorous scrubbing).

    Viruses are enclosed in a lipid (fat) layer and once the soap weakens, or dissolves, this layer of protection for the virus, they die. Warm water makes the soap work better. A popular mistake I have seen in the industrial environment is people practically scalding and grinding their skin with such hot water and harsh soaps so much that it also removes the protective oils from their skin. Afterwards, chemicals and biological agents get an easier path into your body.

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    Jon
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    This is a gap in my understanding too. I don't fully understand why soapy water can or can't be used as a disinfectant.

    I understand that, for regular handwashing, we're largely relying on soap's slipperiness to make stuff slide off of our hands. But for the virus, soap and water actually deactivates the virions.

    My best guess is that there is some sort of necessary mechanical action present in the handwashing process that works with the soapy water, to work itself into the virion's outside layer so that it can deactivate it. Perhaps that's why those common handwashing technique posters feature all those different hand and finger rubbing motions. Thus, unlike a regular disinfectant, I'm guessing that soapy water doesn't kill the virus "on contact".

    We ran out of isopropyl alcohol, and we're using bleach solution frequently, but my favorite disinfectant thus far has turned out to be concentrated Lysol. A small bottle makes a gallon of disinfectant. It doesn't expire in 24 hours like bleach solutions (which can also make your hand's skin crack and thus increase your infection risk), and it has a great foaming action when sprayed, which helps increase contact time. It smells rubbery, but it won't destroy fabric like bleach.

    We've also started soaking our disposable nitrile gloves in bleach solution and reusing them.

    I think that one of the issues with hand sanitizer is that people are using it like hand lotion, when you're really supposed to drench your hands in it for a while and rub it in until it dries.

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    Supporting Member rgsparber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon View Post
    This is a gap in my understanding too. I don't fully understand why soapy water can or can't be used as a disinfectant.

    I understand that, for regular handwashing, we're largely relying on soap's slipperiness to make stuff slide off of our hands. But for the virus, soap and water actually deactivates the virions.

    My best guess is that there is some sort of necessary mechanical action present in the handwashing process that works with the soapy water, to work itself into the virion's outside layer so that it can deactivate it. Perhaps that's why those common handwashing technique posters feature all those different hand and finger rubbing motions. Thus, unlike a regular disinfectant, I'm guessing that soapy water doesn't kill the virus "on contact".

    We ran out of isopropyl alcohol, and we're using bleach solution frequently, but my favorite disinfectant thus far has turned out to be concentrated Lysol. A small bottle makes a gallon of disinfectant. It doesn't expire in 24 hours like bleach solutions (which can also make your hand's skin crack and thus increase your infection risk), and it has a great foaming action when sprayed, which helps increase contact time. It smells rubbery, but it won't destroy fabric like bleach.

    We've also started soaking our disposable nitrile gloves in bleach solution and reusing them.

    I think that one of the issues with hand sanitizer is that people are using it like hand lotion, when you're really supposed to drench your hands in it for a while and rub it in until it dries.
    The mechanical action with soapy water breaks down the outer covering of the virus. Then the RNA sills out. This is a lot different than just washing them off of the skin. So the soapy water DOES destroy the virus on contact. I resist saying that it kills the virus because it is not clear that a virus is alive until it is inside a living cell.

    Most hand cleaners take 10 minutes to kill bacteria and, I assume, break down the virus. The CDC has a list of products and how long you have to wait before they are done working. The bleach water they specify is very weak (1 tsp per cup of water). I wish they would specify the shelf life because a batch lasts me a few days.

    If my water and soap solution can be a substitute for hand disinfectant, it would be a lot easier on the skin plus I have a ready supply. Of course, I'm not willing to bet my life that it works so am still looking for an expert or two.
    Rick

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    Supporting Member rgsparber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeVanGeaux View Post
    The formula should read soap, warm water and... time (of course, it helps if the time is used for moderately vigorous scrubbing).

    Viruses are enclosed in a lipid (fat) layer and once the soap weakens, or dissolves, this layer of protection for the virus, they die. Warm water makes the soap work better. A popular mistake I have seen in the industrial environment is people practically scalding and grinding their skin with such hot water and harsh soaps so much that it also removes the protective oils from their skin. Afterwards, chemicals and biological agents get an easier path into your body.
    I agree with all you said except that the virus "dies". IIRC, the virus is not living until it enters a cell. That is why it is so hearty outside of a cell. We can remove the lipid layer and have the RNA spill out but there is nothing to kill. Is my information out of date?

    Rick
    Rick

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    Jon
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    I've decided on saying that the disinfectants "deactivate" the virion, so I can avoid the discussion about whether viruses are alive or not (probably not).

    I'm not sure how to compare bacteria recommendations vs. virus recommendations.

    I didn't know this before the pandemic, but: concentrated bleach expires, bleach solution expires, concentrated bleach lasts longer at room temperature, and thicker non-splash bleach is at a lower concentration than regular bleach. For ebola, CDC recommended to make new bleach solution every day:

    https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/pdf/3....h-solution.pdf
    https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/pdf/cl...uid-bleach.pdf

    I do 1/2 cup bleach per gallon, which is a little more than CDC recommends. We get everything delivered to the house now, so I mix up a fresh batch before we decontaminate that day's packages. Then I'll let that same batch sit, and I'll spray the next day's packages with it too. After that, I'm outside the 24-hour window, so I throw away the batch of bleach.

    I'm watching carefully for any solid evidence indicating that we can relax our decontamination procedures, but I'm just not seeing it yet. Current understanding is that fomites are not the primary means of infection, but that coughs/sneezes/breaths from an infected delivery person onto the cardboard of a package can last up to 24 hours, and can last for days on plastic packaging tape.

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