As wearing face masks has become the 'new normal,' it's not always possible to have a new one available.
This post discusses how you can safely and effectively sanitize different types of face masks for reuse. Read on!
How Often Should I Clean My Face Mask?
If you've been wearing a face mask, it's essential to clean it before reusing it. The CDC recommends cleaning your face mask after every use. This is because reusing it without cleaning can spread more germs, and touching its surface can prove potentially harmful as well.
So if you wear a cloth face mask daily, wash it thoroughly once you get home. If you aren't able to do so, make sure you've got a spare mask for using the next day.
Sanitizing Different Face Masks
Not all masks are the same. Here's how to sanitize face masks of different types:
If you're short on masks, you can reuse surgical masks up to three times (although we don't recommend it). Since cleaning these delicate masks isn't possible, experts suggest leaving them in a zip lock for 3 - 4 days before reusing.
This is enough to make any viruses stuck on the surface of the mask useless. We suggest keeping a silica gel pack inside the zip lock to prevent any moisture from ruining the mask. But to be on the safe side and exercise maximum precaution, dispose of surgical masks after every use.
Cloth Face Masks
The most popular form of protective face mask is made of cloth. Not only are they readily available, but also reusable and relatively cheap. Not to forget, they're somewhat of a fashion statement amongst youngsters.
It's recommended to wash your cloth mask after every use. Here's how:
- Take off your mask using the elastic straps and without touching the front part.
- Keep it in a washable bag or put it directly into your washing machine.
- Add some laundry detergent.
- Alternatively, you can use hydrogen peroxide to disinfect the mask (make sure it's safe to use on your mask's textile).
- Use water that's over 50°C to wash it for five-ten minutes.
- Tumble dry on the highest heat setting or hang under direct sunlight until it's completely dry.
The standardized procedure for properly sanitizing N95 masks involves using vaporized hydrogen peroxide and other methods. Obviously, this isn't possible for the average user, so it's recommended to dispose of an N95 mask after one use.
However, one research found out that electric cookers can sanitize N95 masks at home without disrupting their filtering abilities. Here's how you can do it:
- Heat your electric cooker for five minutes or until it reaches 347°F. Make sure your cooker doesn't have any water or oils in it before doing so.
- Fold a thick towel and place it at the base of the cooker.
- Next, place the mask in the center of the towel with the front side facing upwards. You can sanitize two to three masks at a time.
- Cover with the lid and let the dry heat sanitize the mask for 45 - 50 minutes.
- Uncover the lid and let the masks cool before using.
Unless you use a cloth mask, we recommend using any other type of mask only once or twice before disposing of it.