The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone wear a face mask when out in public or unable to maintain social distancing. These masks may be medical or surgical masks or a do-it-yourself creation made from a cotton T-shirt or bandana. But whatever the material, they need to be washed regularly to maintain efficiency, say experts.
According to ABC News, face coverings should be washed daily. Penni Watts, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Nursing, says that it’s best to run them through a washing machine using hot water and detergent and then use a dryer. She advises to then place the masks in a clean plastic bag and seal it to prevent germs from entering.
Dr. Tod Cooperman, founder and CEO of ConsumerLab, said that heat effectively kills the coronavirus. “Moist heat appears to be better than dry heat,” he says, adding that masks could be put in an oven with a pan of water placed underneath and heated to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Researchers at Stanford University found that even N95 masks, the gold standard used primarily by healthcare workers, were sanitized in 30 minutes using this method without sacrificing their structure or integrity.
According to Today, even disposable masks can be reused if you follow certain procedures. Number one, said Dr. Luke Davis, an epidemiologist at the Yale School of Public Health, is “don’t touch your mask.” Remove it carefully by using the elastic ear straps and place it in a well-ventilated storage container, such as a clean paper bag.
"Many of us are just using those brown paper bags that we used to take our lunch to work in,” he said. “Those have some structure to them, and you can drop it in and close it up.” The experts did not recommend using a disinfectant to spray the mask, as you’d be breathing it in the next time you wear the mask.
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