Eighty million. That’s the number of germs exchanged in a kiss. Ten to two hundred million. That’s the number of germs that are found on an average cell phone.

What is a clean freak to do? How can we possibly combat all of those germs? This question comes from listener Geraldo in Brazil and I think it’s a great one. Does soap really kill 99.9% of germs?

How Does Soap Clean?

Remember that a germ is what we call any microscopic particle or organism that can make us sick, so this includes viruses and bacteria. Most of the gunk we want to wash off of our hands, whether it be dirt or germs, adheres to us thanks to the oils on our skin. Destroying the oil with a solvent like alcohol or kerosene will thus remove the associated germs.

However, although soaps used in hospitals are often strong, alcohol based versions, alcohol and kerosene are themselves toxic to varying degrees and thus not ideal for frequent in-home use. Imagine smelling like kerosene all day? Luckily, we have soap.


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