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October 2020

Helpful Hygiene Tips: Why we love soap

Written by Nathalie Leblond
Environment and Green Hygiene, Handwashing and Hand Hygiene

The Coronavirus pandemic has pushed hand washing practices into the spotlight like never before, and we thought our readers might find it helpful to understand why we love soap so much (I’ll give you a clue: soap is super effective against viruses) as well as what makes Initial soaps so special.

However, it’s not just COVID-19 that can be prevented with good handwashing practices. In developing countries the biggest killers of young children are respiratory infections and diarrhoeal diseases (which can include shigellosis, typhoid and cholera), all of which are preventable when there are good hand washing protocols in place. In fact, research by Curtis and Cairncross in 2003 estimated that handwashing with soap alone was able to prevent 0.5 – 1.4 million diarrhoea-related deaths per year.

Viruses are no match for good old-fashioned soap:

Have you ever wondered why handwashing with soap is recommended by the World Health Organisation as the most effective means to prevent cross-contamination and protect yourself against diseases like Covid-19? It has to do with how soap molecules and viruses are made. 

The Science of Soap: 

Soap works better than alcohol, sanitisers or disinfectants to destroy viruses because soap contains fat-like molecules known as amphiphiles.  Some amphiphile molecules are structurally similar to the fatty membrane which holds a virus together. These similarities make the soap amphiphiles compete with the fat molecules in the virus membrane. This dissolves the membrane holding the virus together, causing the virus to fall apart and become inactive. It's exactly the same principle as using sunlight liquid on a really greasy pan to get it clean: hot water alone is not enough to destroy the grease molecules, you need soap to actually break down the grease, and it does it using amphiphiles.

Alcohol-based products also dissolve the fatty membrane of viruses, but not as effectively as soap. A fairly high concentration (60% plus) of alcohol is needed to get a rapid dissolution of the virus. Alcohol-based products are a good alternative when soap is not available, but should never replace good handwashing practices.

What makes Initial soaps so special:

Over the last few years, Initial South Africa has been on a journey to replace as many of the chemicals used in the business as possible with more environmentally friendly products. In May last year we took this one step further by introducing our Signature bio-enzyme soap that not only cleans your hands immediately (like traditional soap) but also creates a long-lasting, protective bacterial layer at the same time (unlike traditional soap).

We’ve written about cleaning with bacteria before, but just in case you missed it, here is a wrap up of our 3 top reasons to love bio-enzyme based soaps:

1. Long-lasting protection from cross-contamination:

When washing with traditional soap, hands are only clean for as long as it takes for you to touch a dirty surface. As soon as that happens, your hands are contaminated again, and if you touch your mouth, nose or eyes, you run the risk of getting sick. Not to mention passing the germs on to any other surface you - and then other - people may touch.

Initial’s Signature bio-enzyme soap uses “friendly” bacteria to colonise the hands and create an ongoing protective layer that prevents harmful bacteria, yeasts and moulds from multiplying and spreading. This protective barrier lasts for up to 5 hours after hands have been washed.

When you consider the number of surfaces that your hands touch every day and the fact that germs can stay alive on those surface for up to 48 hours, the idea of a protective layer is pretty appealing.

2. Bio-enzymes support your microbiome:

Researchers have defined the human microbiome as “the genes of the 10 - 100 trillion symbiotic microbial cells harboured by each person, primarily in the gut” but also on the skin and in the mouth.

Dermatologists agree that the skin’s microbiome is vital not only for skin health but also for overall health. "A healthy microbiome can protect against skin infection by preventing the overgrowth of pathogenic organisms," says Dr Patel. You can read more about your microbiome in our previous blog post.

3. Kinder to the environment:

In addition to the long-lasting protective barrier they create on the hands, bio-soaps are better for the environment.

Unlike bleach-based cleaning products which have no residual effect and are thought to have a negative impact on the environment (bleach is formed from the organochlorine family of chemicals which are rarely found in nature and which can take centuries to decompose) the friendly “active” non-pathogenic bacteria contained in these products remain on surfaces and continue to work for days after the service is finished.

In addition to containing no harmful chemicals, the surfactants are plant-based and fully biodegradable, and the enzymes created by the bacteria are non-toxic, non-irritating, non-gaseous, non-flammable, non-pathogenic, non-hazardous, and completely biodegradable. The soaps are also Global Green Tag** certified.

Contact our team for more information on our range of hand hygiene services, and don't forget to sign up to our blog for regular updates on products services and everything hygiene related.

Contact the Initial team to discuss your hygiene requirements

**Global GreenTag certification is a globally trusted, independently certified, certification standard recognised in over 70 countries

Nathalie Leblond

Nathalie Leblond

I joined Rentokil Initial South Africa in 2004 as the PA to the MD, and after 6 months maternity leave I re-joined the Company in 2009 as the Marketing Co-ordinator for Rentokil. I'm now the Marketing Communication Manager for Rentokil Initial. I'm still terrified of cockroaches (Americana's only!) but the rest of the creepy crawlies we deal with don't really bug me (see what I did there?), so I guess I'm in the right industry! I am passionate about what we do here at Rentokil Initial and also write for our Hygiene Blog, which can be found at blog.initial.co.za, and our Ambius blog - https://www.ambius.co.za/blog. Life outside of Rentokil Initial mostly revolves around my daughter, who has just turned twelve, and my husband (who is a bit older). I love living in Cape Town and wouldn't trade living here for anywhere else in the world.

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