Sandalwood-eucalyptus soap bars from Serenitee Pure and Natural

Philly is bunkering down in light of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Nonessential businesses and city services are shut down, meetups of more than 50 people aren’t recommended, restaurants have switched to delivery only and many companies have asked staff to work from home. Hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes are sold out and being hawked online for inflated prices.

But amid all the drama, soap continues to be available.

Turns out old-fashioned hand-washing with soap is one of the most effective ways to kill coronaviruses like the one that causes COVID-19.

Pall Thordarsen, a chemistry professor in Sydney, Australia explains in this now-viral Twitter thread:

Why does soap work so well on the SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus and indeed most viruses? Because it is a self-assembled nanoparticle in which the weakest link is the lipid (fatty) bilayer. A two part thread about soap, viruses and supramolecular chemistry. The soap dissolves the fat membrane and the virus falls apart like a house of cards and “dies”, or rather, we should say it becomes inactive as viruses aren’t really alive. Viruses can be active outside the body for hours, even days.

CDC guidelines say washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water is the first line of defense against the spread of illness, even before hand sanitizer. And bar soap works as well as liquid hand soap, according to the CDC.

Philadelphia’s shutdown of non-essential businesses should not affect shipping and delivery, so shoppers can still promote public health and support local biz in the process.

Here are some Philly businesses selling soaps you can use to help contain the spread.

Beekman’s COPA Soaps

Philly-based Beekman’s COPA Soaps use coconut, olive, palm and almond oils as bases for their hand-crafted lathers. The brand offers several kinds of bar soaps including scentless, exfoliating and herbal options. Bars are $5 with bulk soap deals starting at $45, both available for online delivery.

Duross & Langel

Duross + Langel in Center City elected to close to the public even before the city announced restrictions — business was pretty slow, owner Steve Duross told Billy Penn. But for now, he added, online orders are still very much open.

The company, which makes its own soaps and sources manufacturing from local, family owned biz, sells liquid hand soaps starting at $16, $8 bar varieties and a $6 toy soap for kiddies.

Yadain Cultural Solutions

This Germantown retailer is like smell-good heaven, with soaps, shea butters, shampoos and conditioners. It offers options for specific issues, like acne fighting peppermint and a mango-oat bar for itchy skin.

While the Chelten Avenue storefront is closed under the city’s mandate, the NYC-headquartered brand is still taking orders online. Raw soaps go for $6.75 a bar, the signature raw soap collection starts about about $10 and liquid body washes start at $12 a bottle.

Abiyah Naturals

Abiyah Naturals is a line of handmade plant-based soaps. The brand offers specialty varieties designed to tackle a number of conditions, including turmeric soap for dry, itchy skin and an activated charcoal mixture “to promote healthy, glowing skin.” There’s also simple, scented soaps like the “royal” bar. Shop online for $10-per-pound bulk orders, $11 two-packs, $15 soap three-packs, $20 4-packs and $7 single bars.

The Tin Goat

You may have seen these soap bars around town (before things got all cease and desist on us). They’re usually sold at knick-knack shops like Jinxed and Vix Emporium, and at Totem Brand clothing store on South Street. Good news, they’re also sold online.

The Philly-based brand offers purposeful soaps that are definitely aesthetically pleasing, like the burnt orange-colored Moroccan clay and shea butter soap made for deep cleaning and added moisture. Most soaps start at $7 with a few specialty bars topping out at $8.

Nana Nia’s Enterprises

Located in the middle of West Philly, Nana Nia’s is a colorful, African variety store that sells art, handcrafted jewelry, shea butters and, yes, soaps. Order bars online starting at $3 and made with ingredients like peppermint oil and carrot extract. Hunks of African black soap start at $5 and the priciest chunk goes for $8.

Serenitee Soaps

One proprietor hand crafts these Philly vegan soaps that start at around $4. Signature products are made with plant-based ingredients, including shea butter, rice bran oil and mango butter, and come in scents like cherry almond, lime mint and bourbon vanilla. All Serenitee products are sold online via Big Cartel.

Soap-making kits at Philly Home Brew

Lavender, sandalwood, tea tree, patchouli and chamomile, yum. Philly Home Brew in West Philly offers these smell-good soap making kits for about $36, but supplies are limited. Owner Jimmy McMillan said customers can always shop online, and he’s considering allowing customers to arrange scheduled in-store pick-ups if they don’t want to wait for delivery.

Vellum St. Soap Company

Vellum St. soaps are made from tallow, a form of animal fat, and other ingredients sourced from local restaurants and farms. The brand says its tallow comes from pastured, humanely raised, grass-fed animals, also sourced locally. Soap bars start at $5 and come in yummy scents like honey basil, orange cinnamon chai and the Philly-themed cherry wooder ice bar.

Layla A. Jones (she/her) was a general assignment reporter for Billy Penn from 2019 to 2021. Her work has helped underserved community organizations, earned free repairs for property owners who sustained...