ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — An experiment has been floating around the internet showing the importance of washing your hands with soap. WTAJ Meteorologist, Christy Shields, explains the experiment and why it works.

Related: Here’s how to wash your hands properly

This experiment can be done at home with simple household ingredients.

What you need:

  • Plate
  • Water
  • Dish Soap
  • Pepper


Pour water onto your plate. Wait for the water to calm, and then shake some pepper into the water.

Pepper will represent a virus in this experiment.

Take your finger and stick it into the water and pepper. Notice how the pepper sticks to your finger.

Now either wash your hands, or put soap onto your finger then put your finger back into the plate. Watch how the pepper moves to the side of the plate quickly.


Water molecules like to cling to each other, because of this it creates surface tension. The surface tension allows it to resist other outside forces.

Pepper is not attracted to water, which will allow the pepper to float on top of the surface of the water due to the surface tension.

When you stick your finger in it that isn’t clean, the pepper sticks to your hand. When you use soap, it quickly moves away. This is because soaps are meant to break the surface tension so that it can clean an object.

This makes the water molecules carry the pepper with them as the tension is broken. This is why it’s important to use soap and water to wash your hands. It will make the viruses want to move away.

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