Seems any discussion of COVID-19 invites a firestorm of debate and opinions but here goes:
Laundry soap probably does not kill COVID-19. Part of the problem is that COVID-19 isn’t alive, so you can’t kill something that isn’t even living. What you’re probably asking is “Does laundry soap destroy COVID-19 or render it harmless?”. The answer to this is also probably no.
But laundry soap can be an effective weapon against COVID-19 if used correctly. Think of laundry soap being similar to a bar of soap for your hands, because that’s essentially what it is. Washing your hands with soap and water properly for 20 seconds is an extremely effective way of eliminating COVID-19 from your hands. Note that I didn’t say that soap kills COVID-19. It’s extremely effective at washing it off your hands and out of your life. Laundry soap can do the same thing.
In a washing machine you have water mixing with laundry soap for an extended period of time. 20 seconds? More like 20 minutes or more for the wash cycle. The laundry soap emulsifies any stains, soils, viruses, COVID-19, whatever into a liquid suspension that gets washed away during the rinse cycle, just like washing your hands. It’s the laundry soap combined with the water and the agitation and rinsing that removes COVID-19 from clothes.
It would be us huge mistake to think you could use laundry soap like hand sanitizer or Goop to remove grease from your hands without water. Laundry soap alone and wiping them off could easily leave COVID-19 on your hands in some cases.
Washing clothes with laundry soap is an excellent way to eliminate COVID-19 from clothes. You also get an added bonus if you run them through the dryer because heat destroys viruses as explained here: