How to Safely Reuse & Clean Masks

Updated on June 5th, 2020
Face Masks for Coronavirus

The novel coronavirus has made everyone in the world adapt more hygienic practices. These practices not only save us from coronavirus but also from various other infections and illnesses. Wearing a face mask is one of the best practices followed by individuals when going out of the home or even at home when caring for the sick. 

But we should understand about reusing, washing, and choosing proper masks and how they help us in preventing the spread.

Can I Reuse a Face Mask?

Yes, we can reuse a face mask, but it depends on the type of the mask. 

1. Cloth Masks:

Cloth masks are some of the best face masks that can protect us from catching or spreading germs. Most of the cloth masks that are made at home and those brought in the store are made from single materials. Hence, it becomes easy to wash use detergents or other cloth cleaning products. Therefore, using these masks makes it more desirable as they can be easily cleaned and worn for longer periods(1). 

2. Surgical Masks:

Surgical masks can also help in protecting from catching or spreading coronavirus. Unlike other masks, these masks can’t be cleaned or be reused and must be disposed of after the use. We should also leave these masks for medical and other sectors of workers who are in the front line of service.

3. N95 masks:

N95 masks are considered the best due to its design and the way it inhibits the virus, in comparison to others. The advanced or unique filtration method of N95 can capture up to 95% of particles, which measure around 0.3 µm. The virus may be smaller than this; it can inhibit the catching of the virus, which primarily travel by Brownian motion. Extended or reuse of the mask can reduce its filtration capacity. 

These masks can be used for eight hours straight and up to five times. We should use these masks on alternate days, where we clean and let it dry, which could remove any viruses or harmful particles lingering on it. N95 masks may be made up of different materials; hence the cleaning methods should be followed as directed by the manufacturer. UV treatment, moist heat, and dry heat are a few of the suggested methods for cleaning these masks (Do not try these techniques at home). 

Suggested Read:
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However, the shortage of these N95 masks around the globe has raised concern on how healthcare and other frontline workers may be affected. We should understand that these workers who are protecting us are at higher risk of catching the virus. Hence, it is wise for us to leave these masks for such groups who are in higher need and use other masks mentioned above, which are similarly effective since we do not come in such close contacts with coronavirus patients in general. 

surgical mask COVID-19How to Clean the Mask(2)?

Cleaning face mask depends on the frequency of usage and exposure to the contaminants. If you are living in a high-risk zone or travel outside, you must wash it regularly. On a safe side, you can keep a stock of few masks so that you can use a different mask while the used one is washed and dried properly. 

  1. Make sure to use hot water and detergent to wash the face masks. 
  2. Take off the mask from sides using the loops and immediately wash it before placing it anywhere in the home or just put it in a laundry basket or bag.
  3. Make sure to wash your hands and face thoroughly after removing the face mask. 

Conclusion:

A face mask is undoubtedly one of the best practices to avoid contracting or spreading the novel coronavirus. But, we should also contribute to the society by leaving medical masks to the health care and other frontline workers and switch to using cloth masks.

Following other hygienic practices such as sanitizing hands, maintaining social distance, and other prevention tips by CDC and which are also a must stop the spread of coronavirus.

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