Healthier Lives

This Science Experiment Shows the Importance of Washing your Hands with Soap

Jan 26,2023

A Simple Science Experiment for Parents to do at Home with their Kids

Parents, are you worried about your kids not having opportunities to learn while they’re sitting at home due to COVID-19? We’ve got the perfect solution to your problem! It’s an easy science experiment for parents and kids to do together. Not only will your children have fun, but they will also learn a valuable lesson related to viruses like COVID-19. So, go into your kitchen, grab a few ingredients, and let’s get started!




Hand Soap or Dish Soap



Step 1

Pour water onto the plate.

Step 2

Sprinkle some pepper into the water.

Step 3

Take your finger and dip it into the solution. Notice how the pepper sticks to your finger. Pepper represents the virus in this experiment. So, if the pepper were the coronavirus, you might be at risk!

Step 4

Wash your hands and put soap on your finger, and then place your finger back into the solution on the plate. Watch how the virus (pepper) moves rapidly away from your finger, like rats scurrying for shelter at the sight of a prowling cat. When you pull your finger out, you will notice that it is squeaky clean. That is the amazing power of soap in action!

Now, your children will KNOW exactly why washing their hands is so important for protecting themselves from germs and viruses like COVID-19.

The Science Behind the Experiment

Water molecules are like the clique in the movie Mean Girls – they like to stick together and not let anyone else in. By sticking together, however, the water molecules create surface tension that resists outside forces, like the pepper. Because of the surface tension, the pepper hangs out on top of the water waiting for something – like a finger – to connect to.  Soap, however, breaks the surface tension, forcing the pepper to be carried away and mixed with the water molecules rather than sticking to your finger.

The same concept is at play with coronavirus. If you wash your hands without soap, the surface tension remains intact, and so the water rolls over the coronavirus without damaging it. Because soap is a combination of two molecules – one that is attracted to fats and another that is attracted to water – it breaks the surface tension. Coronavirus has an outer layer made up of fat, so when it comes into contact with soap for long enough (at least 20 seconds), the part of the soap attracted to fat will literally rip the outer layer away, killing the virus, and leaving the harmless remains to wash down the drain with the water. Bye bye coronavirus!

As you and your child can see, washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water is really, really important. To learn how to wash your hands properly, follow the directions in the infographic below and remember to wash for at least 20 seconds!


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