> HygieneWorx

Keeping Parents and Kids Healthy Through Proper Hygiene Practices

Humans Can’t Estimate Time!

This is what Mom Belinda realized when the COVID-19 Pandemic struck.  After watching a video explaining why it is essential to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, she started watching her family’s handwashing habits.
SURPRISE! They NEVER get to the 20-second mark. No matter if they sing Happy Birthday, Count, recite a poem, or anything else – unless there is an actual timer involved, it’s just not happening.

But Why do you need to wash your hands for 20 Seconds?

According to associate professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Northeastern, Thomas Gilbert:

Scientists say that the worst enemy of the virus is that cheap soap by your sink.

That’s because of simple chemistry. In soap lather, a combination of molecules assemble into bubble-like structures called micelles that trap viral matter and other biomaterials—grease, oil, dirt—and rinse them down the drain.

The soaps we use contain a class of compounds called surfactants, which can neutralize germs in our skin such as SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses, pathogens with a crown-like structure, and an outer membrane made of lipid molecules and proteins.

“Surfactants basically pry open coronavirus particles and encapsulate viral molecules within micelles suspended in the lather clinging to your hands,” says Thomas Gilbert, an associate professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Northeastern. “That allows the deactivated viral material to be washed away as you rinse your hands.”

SARS-CoV-2 spreads through the air in the form of small particles that an infected person near you breathed, sneezed, coughed, or let loose while talking. They can enter your body through the eyes, mouth, or nose. Recent findings suggest that those germs can also survive hours, even days when they land on objects made of plastic, metal, and cardboard.

Because the virus can also be contracted by transporting germs from such contaminated objects into your body after you touch your face, public health officials have pushed hand-washing as one of the best ways to protect against COVID-19.

But it has to be done the right way. The gold standard involves scrubbing your hands thoroughly with soap and clean water for at least 20 seconds.

That time allows the soap to form a lather that contains pin-like surfactant molecules with two ends. One is a hydrophilic one that likes to interact with water. The other end is a hydrophobic one that avoids water but readily interacts with other similar biological materials, such as oils, fats—and the makeup of the outer membrane of coronaviruses.

With their water-avoiding ends pointing inwards and their water-loving ends out, the surfactants in micelles can encapsulate and carry the viral debris away from our hands, with the help of water. In other words, soap molecules basically make the insoluble viral molecules easily soluble in water (and thus transportable off of your hands and down your drain).

But your hands have many surfaces and parts to clean individually, and the lather needs to cover all of them to capture the germs within—palms, wrinkles, fingernails, between fingers, under rings, bandaids, or splints you may have on an injured finger. If you are doing it right, 20 seconds allows for enough time to be thorough, and for soap molecules to do their job on the entire hand.

Back to Hygiene Worx

Belinda got a little timer and stuck it to the mirror. She instructed everyone to set the timer to wash their hands – EPIC FAIL!

If they remembered to set the timer (not very often), the process went like this: Set timer, Open Tap (1-2 Seconds), get soap (3-5 Seconds), Actually wash hands (12-13 seconds), Timer beeps, rinse hands.

That is when she came up with the idea to build a timer into a soap dispenser – this solves all the problems! She rigged a normal soap dispenser with a makeshift timer to test the concept and immediately noticed an improvement.

As soon as the kids squirt the soap in their hands the timer starts and within a few days they were conditioned to wait for the “Beep” sound before rinsing. Especially since mom made them go back and do it again every time they walked out of the bathroom before the beep!

Poppy Pig

With the help of Angelique, her 12-year-old daughter, Belinda designed a cute automatic foam soap dispenser that looks like a little pig with a built-in 20-second timer. Poppy automatically starts counting as soon as the kids squirt the soap in their hands to start washing. A green light on the nose blinks to show that the timer is running and after 20 seconds Poppy emits a loud Beep to let the kids know that they can stop washing.

Poppy completely removes the friction of washing hands for 20 seconds!

The first batch of Poppy Pigs are in the warehouse in St. Pete and Poppy pig is available on Amazon for parents that want to keep their kids clean and safe.

Submit your Innovation Story

Join and network with a global community of innovators  by sharing your success story with the world.



Our promise: we dislike spam as much as the next person, and promise never to break your trust in us. We will never sell data – this is only used for the INNOVATE® Newsletter