Medical experts admit that face masks are crucial in preventing coronavirus spread. This is because they provide a barrier that catches the micro-droplets containing the virus. While a face mask may effectively prevent the risk of contracting COVID-19, they must be cleaned after every use. If you have anyone in your household that’s ill or has a weak immune system, consider adding a disinfectant when cleaning.
It’s also best that you’ve got more face masks so that they can be rotated. Take note that those made from cotton stand up best when cleaned using a washing machine or hand. Here is a detailed guide on the effective ways to use and sanitize a reusable face mask.
Storing Your Face Mask
When storing your mask, place it where humans and animals are not walking by regularly. You should still make sure that the area where the masks are stored is sanitized. When storing your face mask, make sure that you place them in plastic zip locks, brown paper bags, or hang them in safe areas. This is a crucial safety precaution because you have no idea who is carrying germs or is sick. If you leave them lying in the wrong area, anyone could potentially breathe or sneeze on them.
Brown paper bags come highly recommended as the best way to store your mask because if your mask gets wet or soiled in any way, the bag will indicate whether to throw or wash your mask. Another notable advantage is that there are fewer bacteria and mold created in such bags than in plastics.
How to Tell Whether a Face Mask Fits You
Everyone’s ears, nose, and face are unique, and there is no way two people will use the same mask. If you feel comfortable with the spaces between your mouth and the face mask material when breathing, you know that your mask fits. However, you need to ensure that it touches your chin’s tip and bridge on your nose.
When wearing a mask, there shouldn’t be a lot of pressure on your nose. Still, ear loops should feel natural on your ears, just like wearing glasses.
Are Face Masks with Valves Recommended?
Face masks with valves should be avoided because they don’t protect others from the coronavirus. While it was designed to be comfortable for anyone wearing it, it doesn’t do much to prevent droplets from being released outside the mask.
The valve on the mask allows exhaled air to escape to prevent the build-up of heat in your face mask. This may come handy in ensuring that you don’t inhale dust, but it isn’t a great alternative when dealing with a pandemic.
Cleaning Your Cloth Face Mask
Cloth face masks can either be hand-washed or machine-washed. If you’re handling a soiled mask, it’s always a great idea to keep masks away from your face and wear disposable gloves.
Machine Washing Your Face Mask
When using a washing machine to wash your face mask, you should wash them in warm or hot water with detergent to sanitize them. For the best cleaning results, you need to ensure that your dryer and washer is configured to the hottest heat setting. If you are washing the face mask with other clothes, ensure that they aren’t overloaded. This way, the mask can tumble freely in the machine.
Washing The Mask by Hand
If the hand-sewn masks have washable filters or are delicate inside, you need to wash them by hand. Clean them in warm or hot water, scrub for about thirty seconds, then rinse it thoroughly. For deep hand laundering, begin by diluting powder detergent or liquid in hot water then submerge it for about thirty seconds to lift body soils and dirt.
Let it soak for an additional twenty minutes before you rinse and allow it to dry. If you are washing by hand, ensure that you don’t overuse detergent, and rinse it thoroughly. This is an essential step because any detergent residue can cause skin irritation to some people. Remember to treat your mask like an infected surface every time you use it.
Removing Stain from Your Mask
If your mask is stained during storage, handling, or wearing, you can treat it with the same laundry stain products for other textile and clothing. Understand that not every product works equally on stains, which is why you should invest in the best product to remove your dirt or grime. For instance, if your face mask has sunscreen stains, you should avoid using chlorine bleaches because many sunscreen formulas have an ingredient (avobenzone) that doesn’t react well with such products.
Drying and Other Cleaning Options to Consider
Drying your face mask is an important step in effectively sanitizing your cloth face mask. You need to know that masks made from linen or cotton shrink if you expose them to high heat. So, whenever you are using a machine dryer, ensure that you select the hot setting that’s safe for your mask fabric type. In case your mask is creased or wrinkled from washing, it’s advisable to iron the mask on a hot linen or cotton setting as long as it’s safe for such a fabric.
When air drying, lay your mask flat and allow it to dry completely. If possible, you need to place it in direct sunlight. Steaming your mask is still an option you can consider, but experts admit that this isn’t an ideal option to clean and disinfect. Steam can kill viruses and bacteria, but it would not penetrate the different areas of your mask for deep cleaning.
Try avoiding other inventive cleaning methods, such as putting the mask in an oven, boiling, or microwaving because such methods aren’t safe or effective.
Wrapping it Up
Your mask regularly comes in contact with dirt, grime, and natural oils, potentially causing accelerated wear and tear, irritating your skin, and compromising the mask seal. This is why it is useful to clean your mask every day to safeguard yourself against infection. If your mask is damaged, make sure that you wash it, place it in a sealed plastic bag, then discard it in the garbage.