Hand-washing has never been so widely talked about and stressed as a disease-preventing measure.  So here's a question:  Do you really NEED soap?

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The answer is, yes and it's markedly better than using just water.  But most people don't really understand the science behind how soap works.

There are two essential ingredients in most soap:  Vegetable or animal fat.  And lye, also known as sodium hydroxide.

 

Instead of killing germs, soap removes them from your hands.  And it's VERY good at it.

 

That's because germs tend to stick to the oil and grease on our skin.  And water alone won't get rid of that oil, because they don't mix.  But soap likes BOTH oil and water.

Soap molecules have one end that wants to bind with water, and another end that wants to bind with oil.  So they can get in between and bind with both at the same time.

Soap sticks to the oil molecules where all the germs are, AND allows the water to wash them off.  In short it is worth the extra few seconds to use soap, because it does a much better job.

(Live Science)