Facemasks have been made mandatory, to reduce spread of the coronavirus. In response, people across the country have started wearing both medical and cloth masks. However, it’s become expensive to keep buying disposable masks, so if you have a cloth one that you keep reusing, there are certain steps you have to follow to keep it clean, in order to maximize its effectiveness.

“Since we need to wear face masks to slow the spread of COVID-19, residents have taken it as a normal part of life, but there are just a handful, who know how to keep them clean,” Damodaran Sivakumar, Head of Production at 5àsec UAE, a leading laundry operator in Dubai says to Gulf News.

Using the same cloth mask daily without cleaning it will not shield you from the virus and may actually have the opposite effect.”

1. How often do you need to wash your facemask?

Your facemask should be washed at least once a day. We cannot stress on that enough. The virus may stay active on fabric for a long period of time, which makes it necessary to wash your mask after any of your day trips. If you suspect that someone you have been in close contact with is infected, you should put the mask in the wash immediately and use a fresh one. Apart from the virus, the masks also tend to collect any sweat, oil or makeup from skin, which may also affect your health.

2. What fabric is suitable for a facemask?

Cotton fabric is the perfect material for a facemask. With an ideal thread count of about 200 with up to three layers of fabric, this material is effective in filtering out the virus as well as blocking any pathogens from entering. With the strict protocol of wearing the facemask while on the move, it is essential to be comfortable with your face mask and the cotton fabric provides the right amount of breathability. It is also recommended to use white color masks that can be washed in higher temperatures.

3. How should you handle your facemask after use?

Upon returning home, we recommend that the first thing you do is take off your mask carefully and place it in the laundry bin until you can wash it. You may opt to leave it in the bin for 24 hours or more in quarantine, which is known to allow the virus to decay. Do not let the mask come into contact with any other family member.

4. How can you disinfect cloth masks?

A machine wash at a high temperature with quality detergents is good enough to kill the virus. However, if you want to avoid running a machine load just for a single mask, you can also toss in your clothing items that you wore to step-out as well. If you prefer to hand-wash your mask, ensure that you get into every inch of the mask and clean it using the correct amount of chemical. Additionally, soaking the mask in hot water for 10-minutes and then rinsing it thoroughly will also help to remove all the pathogens. Avoid using bleach completely as the constant smell can cause nausea and headaches.

5. What is the appropriate temperature to wash a facemask?

Viruses cannot withstand high temperatures; therefore, washing face masks at a temperature of more than 60 degrees help disinfect the mask. Since fabrics with dark colors fade after a couple of washed at high temperatures, it is advisable to make or buy the fabric mask in lighter shades.

6. How should a facemask be dried?

After washing your mask, it is best to dry it at a high temperature since heat also sanitizes the mask. For masks with a plastic filter and valve, you will need to be extra careful and air-dry or sun-dry them. A hairdryer can also be used as an easy and effective dryer. Sunlight is another excellent natural sanitizing agent. Since the starting temperature of an average household iron is 140 degrees Celsius, ironing the mask post-drying will provide an added measure to ensure that the virus is completely eliminated.

source: gulfnews