Wearing our face masks while we’re out and about has been imparted into our essential routine just like how we’d wear our clothes. Without it, we feel naked. And when you think about it, 6 months ago, we would never have expected mask-wearing to be mandatory — even if we’re heading out to the letterbox. Oh, how the times have changed.
Although wearing your face masks is a total no-brainer, many are still unaware of how we should wash and care for our reusable face masks, or even dispose of those surgical ones in a more hygienic manner. In order to maximise protection against bacteria and viruses, here are some important tips to note about washing, caring for, and disposing your face masks.
As we adapt to masking guidelines, it is important to note that you inculcate the habit of washing your reusable cloth masks regularly with each use — as frequently as you wash your underwear. Now, you can wash your face masks along with your pile of clothes in the washing machine — with clean, warm water and soap. However, if you’re more concerned about the dye ruining your clothes, you can also give them a hand wash.
It’s pretty simple — all you need is to soak your mask with warm water and soap for at least a minute before drying it.
However, as for the Government-issued masks that were recently distributed, these masks require special care — where you have to thoroughly hand wash these masks with room-temperature water and mild soap before drying it, instead of soaking and washing it with detergent.
Drying your face mask is also very important to reduce contamination of some viruses. After washing, simply dry your masks out in the sun or even a dryer to reduce the microbes — ensuring that traces of pathogens are removed before using them. Alternatively, if you don’t have a dryer you can also reach out for your iron to dry your damp mask.
1. REMOVING YOUR MASK
You probably don’t need to be educated on how you should take your masks off at this point in time but little did you know, there are some extra precautionary measures to take before actually removing them. Here’s a step-by-step guide on safely removing your masks in a more sanitary way.
Be sure to sanitise your hands before touching your masks.
Safely remove the mask by grabbing the ear loops and avoid touching the front of the mask.
If your mask comes with a pair of ties, untie the one at the bottom first before removing the top.
After removing it, fold your mask inwards before tossing it into the washing machine. If your mask comes with filters, remember to dispose of the filter.
Sanitise your hands again.
2. STORING YOUR MASK
To properly store your mask away while you’re out, you should avoid placing it into your pockets or your purse. Penni Watts, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Nursing, also mentioned in Economic Times that he advises to “store the clean, dry mask in a new paper bag to keep it safe from germs.” When doing so, be sure to fold the mask before storing it in a clean or new paper bag or even a Ziploc bag — followed by sanitising your hands.
3. HOW MANY WASHES IS YOUR REUSABLE FACE MASK GOOD FOR?
As a rule of thumb, reusable face masks such as the ones given by the Government is reusable for up to 30 times, which presumably means its good for 30 washes. We’d recommend for you to switch them out after for hygiene purposes.
However, if you start to notice some discolouration of the mask, it’s recommended that you replace yours immediately. Reason being: the anti-bacterial barrier has been broken which makes you more susceptible to bacteria and viruses. In this case, for Government-issued masks, a spokesman for the manufacturer of these masks told The Straits Times that they will be “offering a one-time one-for-one exchange for consumers”.
Many tend to undermine the importance of disposing of their surgical masks, but little did they know, disposing of it properly is important in reducing the exposure to bacteria and viruses.
DISPOSING SURGICAL MASKS
STEP 1: TAKE OFF YOUR MASK
STEP 2: FOLD YOUR MASK INTO HALF SO THE DROPLETS FROM YOUR MOUTH AND NOSE ARE NOT EXPOSED.
STEP 3: FOLD IT INTO ANOTHER HALF
STEP 4: THEN, ROLL YOUR MASK INTO A ROLL AND WRAP IT WITH THE EAR LOOPS BEFORE DISPOSING OF THE MASK