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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made it clear that wearing face masks is one of the most effective methods to prevent transmitting COVID-19. However, disposable masks are often uncomfortable and still in short supply in some areas, which means using reusable cloth masks is becoming more popular.
While covering your mouth is essential, it is also necessary to keep your reusable mask clean. Some tips to help you do this can be found below.
Disposable masks that are made from non-woven fibers, such as KN95 and N95, cannot be cleaned safely at home. Exposure to too much water or chemical-based cleaning products may damage the fibers and may destroy the carbon filtration systems found in the N95 respirators.
Because there were shortages of these masks, Dr. Peter Tsai, the N95 mask inventor, and other scientists from the University of Tennessee, are working to see if using UV-C light would work as a disinfectant. However, there are no effective ways to clean these masks at home.
If you have an N95 or KN95 mask, you can wear them up to five times (if it is the same person each time). There are exceptions to this, such as if the mask is used for specific medical procedures, heavily soiled, or damaged.
On the other hand, fabric face masks can be washed at home. They can also be used until they are torn or until they no longer fit your face.
Before putting your reusable, fabric face mask on, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly using soap or hand sanitizer. Find the interior and exterior of the mask, and be sure to put the interior surface next to your skin. You should make sure the mask fits snugly against your face and covers your mouth and nose. You should not touch the mask (if possible) while it is on.
When taking the mask off, take the elastic bands off your ears, or untie the strings. Do not touch the front of the mask to remove it. Put the mask in a bag or hold it until you can wash it.
Experts recommend that you clean your mask each time it is used. If you can, purchase a few extras, so you always have one ready to use. There are several high-quality retailers now offering reusable fabric masks for sale, and many are customizable to ensure you get the right look and fit.
When you are ready to wash your mask, be sure to do so with items that are similar colors. Also, use a heavy-duty detergent to ensure all the sweat and soil on the mask is removed. When drying the mask, put it on the highest heat cycle to help kill any germs or bacteria that linger on the surface of the mask.