Now that we are wearing face masks form day to day, it is vital for us to learn how to use and re-use it. After all, face masks are only effective if they are worn, stored and disposes off in a proper manner. If you do not use them the right way, you might just end up spreading germs around.
How many masks do you need?
In order to determine this, consider the lifestyle you lead. If you have to go out frequently because of your job, you should at least have 2 masks with you. Now, it’s important to handle your mask properly. Even when you adjust it or take it off you should practice before having a good hand hygiene. Wash your hands or use hand gel before and after touching your mask. This reduces cross-contaminations.
A mistake people usually do is touching the mask after they have already put it on, either to adjust it or move it. Either way, you should not be touching your mask once you’ve it on. The outside of the mask is considered dirty.
Try to keep a paper bag or a Ziploc bag with you so you can store the mask once you take it off. Always store your mask in a clean place and avoid storing it in your purse or a pocket. As aforementioned, the outside of the mask has been exposed so you would want to avoid it having contact with other things around you. Do not touch the outside of your mask and also avoid pulling it below your chin. These are cross-contamination risks that you should prevent.
When is it safe to remove your mask?
Keep the mask on while you are outside running your errands. You can remove it outside when you are away from others, in your car, or at your house. Bring your mask with you so you can proceed to cleaning it.
The best way to take off a face mask is the following:
- By washing your hands or using hand gel that is alcohol-based, containing perhaps at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching the front of your mask.
- Carefully remove your mask by grasping the ear loops.
- If the mask has filters, take them off and throw them away. Fold the mask and put it in a disposable bag or the laundry.
- Wash your hands once again.
How to reuse
Inspect your mask if you wish to re-use it. Is it compromised: wet or visibly dirty? If it is, it would be best to throw it away. If it is okay to reuse it, prepare it for a proper storage to be used once again. Like we mentioned before you can use a paper bag or a plastic bag to store it. Wash your hands. When you want to reapply the mask, wash your hands first. Open your mask storage bag and grasp the mask by its loops. Remember, do not touch the front. Use the ear loops to put it on and secure it on the bridge of your nose. Wash you hands again and avoid touching it while you are donning it.
Cleaning care for masks
The cleaning of a mask can be tricky, especially the N95 and the KN95. Studies show that washing the masks reduces effectiveness. When you wash them with water and soap it reduces the filtration of the mask with basically can render it useless. If you use alcohol to disinfect the mask, you will not be rubbing the mask and maybe it does not affect it as much? That would be wrong since unfortunately tests show that alcohol can reduce the particle capture of a mask by almost 40%. Definitely unfavorable for another use. You would be putting yourself at risk.
Cleaning or washing your N95 is a bit complicated. It would be best to replace it with a new one. But what if you do not have a new mask or cannot find them anywhere? After all, they have been getting a bit harder to find. Need a quick cleaning help? Bottom line, the best way to disinfect N95 masks is to leave them outside to dry. This should disinfect them from any virus in under 48 hours. This gives you time to plan your next outing and probably find a new face mask. After all, we do recommend you have at least two. Of course, this all depends on what you do. If your work requires constant errand running, you should even consider getting more masks just in case.
Try to stay safe. If you can do something at home, try staying at home. Do not go out as frequently as you would without the pandemic going around. Exposure can be everywhere, and cross-contamination risks are running higher. Take care of your family and loved ones. Stay safe.