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Does Goat Milk Soap Kill Germs?
Sometimes we wash our hands to simply remove food or dirt, but quite often we wash our hands to get rid of germs so we don't get sick. Will washing your hands with goat milk soap prevent germs from making you sick?
Soap in and of itself does not actually kill germs. Instead, the act of washing your hands with goat milk soap and water washes away the germs. Properly washing your hands can be as effective at ridding your hands of germs as antibacterial soap or alcohol. Our hands aren’t meant to be sterile objects, but regular hand washing reduces the chance of getting dangerous germs into our body and making us sick.
How Germs Get on Your Hands
Studies have shown that the "five second rule" (the rule that says you can eat food, if you drop it, so long as you pick it up within five seconds) is mostly true in many conditions. In fact, germs do not easily contaminate many foods in that amount of time.
The most significant factor is the type of food. Germs can contaminate food in five seconds or less if the dropped food is wet or oily because they pick up germs more readily than food that is hard or dry. For example, if you drop bread butter side down, it will gather germs. But if you drop a dry cracker then the chance of germ contamination decreases drastically.
What does this have to do with washing your hands? Your skin naturally secretes oils to keep itself healthy. And since germs can more easily attach to the oils on your hands, it makes your hands magnets for germs. In fact, the dirtier our hands get, the more attractive they become to germs.
Germs and Bacteria
A germ is an umbrella phrase for any microscopic organism, including viruses and bacteria, and generally refers to negative or unhealthy organisms. When people say "germs" they are often referring to the types of organisms that make us sick.
But there are also good bacteria and other organisms that live on your skin and are harmless or even more important, are beneficial and essential to keeping your immune system healthy.
So the goal of washing your hands should be to keep them clean, remove harmful germs, and protect the natural healthy flora that resides on your skin.
Antibacterial soap was invented for use in hospitals. When there is a concentration of people with weakened immune systems, it made sense to create a germ-killing soap.
The trouble with antibacterial soap is that it has a residual effect. Triclosan, an ingredient in many antibacterial soaps is designed to hang around and continue to kill germs. This continuous killing of bacteria can not only kill off the good bacteria, but it can help create antibiotic resistant bacteria as germs adapt to constant low levels of chemical germicide.
The results of overusing antibacterial soaps have shown themselves in the recent developments of the formally rare Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). MRSA is resistant to antibiotics and was once only found in hospitals. It has now been found in schools and other institutions. The cause is believed to be the use of low levels of antibacterial cleaners.
Unless you are in a hospital environment, using antibacterial soap is unnecessary and does more harm than good. Antibacterial soaps should be avoided because they contain potentially harmful chemicals, promote antibiotic resistance, lead to weaker immune systems, are bad for the environment, and are not any more effective than natural goat milk soap.
So use plain and not antibacterial soap because healthy flora on your skin is as essential to staying healthy as removing germs that can make us sick.
Is water alone effective at washing?
According to Harvard Health Publishing, 25%-30% of people have colonies of staph on their bodies. These germs stay harmless unless they enter the body through an opening, like a cut or abrasion.
You can use just water to flush these cuts and abrasions in an effort to remove oil, dirt, and germs. Make sure it is running water and not a bowl of standing water which just gives the germs a place to stay. But water by itself doesn’t handle the job as well as when soap is also added.
Soap works by reducing water tension. Water tension is what makes water "bead up" rather than spread out. Have you ever tried to wash grease from your hands with just water? The water will just bead up and not wash the grease away. The same is true for the oils (that attract germs) on your hands.
Water needs a surfactant (such as soap) to break up the surface tension of the water so it doesn't bead up. When you add soap, it makes water more effective so that washing your hands cuts through the grease and oil and washes them away.
If you want to demonstrate this to your children (or yourself), fill a glass of water as full as you can get it so that it's a tiny bit taller than the top of the glass. Be careful not to let any of it spill over. The surface tension holds the water in place even though it is slightly taller than the glass. Now carefully add one drop of soap to the surface and watch the water immediately spill over. The soap has broken the surface tension of the water.
Tips for Washing Hands
- Wash your hands in water that is a comfortable temperature. Hot water can dry your skin out and using a comfortable water temperature will encourage longer hand washing.
- Rinse your hands with flowing water since standing water is a good way for germs to stick around.
- Wash your hands for at least twenty seconds with soap.
- Rub your hands together and be sure to get between the fingers.
- Dry your hands thoroughly with something clean since wet hands are as prone to gathering and spreading germs as dirty hands.
- Always wash your hands before eating and food preparation so you reduce the chance of ingesting germs.
The Many Occasions for Hand Washing
How often you wash your hands depends greatly on your activities. You should wash your hands
- Before food preparation
- After using the bathroom
- After changing diapers
- Before you eat
- When you cover a sneeze or cough with your hands
- After animal care
In summary, goat milk soap (in bar form or as a liquid soap) doesn't actually kill germs. Instead, it allows water to remove the germs from your hands and wash them down the drain. This is why you don't need to worry about germs being on the surface of your bar soap or on your liquid soap bottle. You're going to wash your hands and wash any germs you've contacted away.
"This soap is naturally fragrant without smelling like manufactured perfume. Oh, and I also love it because it does what soap is supposed to do: cleans like a bubbling warrior! I’ll be ordering more." - Leigh