One of the biggest challenges of fighting COVID-19 is simply fighting the spread of the virus. People have been told to wash their hands, even given very specific instructions on how by the World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control. They’ve been told to wipe down surfaces as often as possible. While many are taking precautions, it can still be difficult to conceptualize an enemy you can’t see. That’s why YouTuber Mark Rober conducted a visual experiment to drive it home for everyone.

He used a product called Glow Germ, which is invisible to the naked eye, but can be seen glowing brightly under a blacklight.

He took the Glo Germ to a classroom and put some on a teacher, who shook hands with three students at the top of the day. Rober applied some more Glo Germ powder to a child’s hands on the playground.

He applied a blacklight to the classroom around lunchtime, and the powder could be seen all over the classroom after just those two applications.

“Cleaning commonly touched surfaces is important, because even if a virus is spread through airborne transmission, those tiny droplets don’t stay in the air for long,” explains Roper. “They land on surfaces, waiting to be touched by our hands…Your eyes, nose and mouth are like the single weak spot on the Death Star when it comes to viruses, that’s the only way they can get in to infect you.”

He also tried it on himself and thought he did a pretty good job resisting face touching.

“I resisted the urge to touch my face so many times, I expected to have a fully clean face and the moral high ground. And then this is what I saw.”

He turned on the blacklight:

“On average, we touch our face 16 times an hour, which is why washing our hands is so important,” he continues. “It’s impossible to catch a virus directly through your hands; it’s as futile as shooting at the outer surface of the Death Star. The problem is, we use our hands to help the virus out by constantly giving it a ride to our figurative Death Star exhaust ports.”

You might find it hard to visualize germs. Try imaging someone is going to shine a giant blacklight on you after you leave the bathroom and scrub away.

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*First Published: March 21, 2020, 7:06 am