How Does Soap Kill Germs?

by Victoria Ries

Soap Facts

Regular soap possesses little antimicrobial defense when it comes to killing germs. Plain soap does not kill pathogens (harmful germs) such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. Regular hand-washing techniques with soap and water, serve to prevent the transfer of infection from one person to another, such as with doctor and patient hygiene practices. Soap, containing tea tree oil kills germs and is effective against staphylococcus bacteria, helping wounds heal faster. Old-fashioned lye soap was heralded as a cure-all back in its day. However, unless a germ-killing agent is added while the soap is being processed, it is no better than plain soap for killing germs.

Antibacterial Soaps

Antibacterial soaps should be avoided as much as possible, due to the mutation of germs when antibacterial soaps are used. Based on the same principles as antibiotics, if antibacterial soaps are used for a prolonged period, germs will mutate becoming immune to the antibacterial qualities contained in the soap. There are many beneficial naturally-occurring microbes living on human skin. These microbes attack unwanted germs, helping to keep the skin healthy. Taking a daily bath or shower doesn’t wipe these microbes out. Instead they bounce right back within an hour or so, continuing their task.

Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizers

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers in a squirt bottle actually kill germs and bacteria that cause infections. These hand sanitizers also kill harmful pathogens, which make them a good choice for occasional germ-killing treatment during the day. In between using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, plain soap and hot water (heat kills germs) will suffice to keep infectious organisms at bay.

About the Author

Victoria Ries is a freelance writer whose work has been published in various print magazines, including "Guideposts," "BackHome," New Homesteading" and "Mother Earth News." Ries enjoys working on diverse topics such as travel, animal rescue, health and home business. Ries is currently working on her B.A. in psychology.