The Power of Soap in Killing Germs

What is it about soap that makes it so effective in killing germs?

The Power of Soap in Killing Germs
Photo by CDC / Unsplash

Germs are all around us, and while some are harmless, others can cause serious illness. One such illness is Ebola, a highly infectious and often deadly disease. While there is no cure for Ebola, one effective way to prevent its spread is through proper hygiene, including the use of soap. But what is it about soap that makes it so effective in killing germs?

How Soap Works

Soap is made up of molecules with two different ends – one end is attracted to water, and the other end is attracted to oils and fats. When you wash your hands with soap and water, the soap molecules surround the germs on your skin and dissolve the oily outer layer of the germs. This disrupts the structure of the germs and destroys their ability to function and reproduce.

The Role of Water

Water itself does not kill germs, but it plays a crucial role in the effectiveness of soap. Water helps to loosen dirt, sweat, and other substances on the skin that can trap germs. It also helps to rinse the soap and germs away, preventing them from being spread to other surfaces or individuals.

The Importance of Proper Handwashing Technique

Simply using soap and water is not enough to effectively kill germs. Proper handwashing technique is crucial in ensuring that all areas of the hands are thoroughly cleaned. The World Health Organization recommends the following steps for handwashing with soap and water:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), and apply enough soap to create a lather.
  2. Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub all surfaces of your hands, including the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

The Role of Soap in Preventing the Spread of Ebola

Proper hand hygiene is crucial in preventing the spread of Ebola, as the virus is primarily spread through direct contact with bodily fluids. By washing your hands with soap and water, you can effectively remove any traces of the virus and reduce the risk of transmission.

In addition to handwashing, the use of soap and water can also help prevent the spread of Ebola in other ways. For example, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces with soap and water can help to remove any contaminated materials and prevent the spread of the virus.


Soap may seem like a simple and common household item, but its effectiveness in killing germs cannot be understated. By understanding how soap works and practicing proper handwashing technique, we can help prevent the spread of diseases like Ebola and protect ourselves and those around us. For more information on Ebola, visit and check out our blog. Follow us on Twitter @ebola_cases for the latest updates and information.