Regular Soap and How it Works

Question

How does regular soap work?

Dr. Greene's Answer

Soap isn’t designed to kill bacteria, but to lift dirt off of surfaces so that it can easily be rinsed away. This is what happens when people wash their hands with soap. The scrubbing action helps to release dirt and oils that are on the surface of skin, and soap picks up the dirt and carries it away during rinsing.

More Information:

Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizers and Antibacterial Soaps
Hand Washing – Good Germs – Super Germs
Soap and Water or Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizers?
What Hand Hygiene Product Should I Use?

Last medical review on: April 24, 2008
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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