Masks – reusable or otherwise – are officially a staple of our everyday wardrobes, so it’s crucial to know how to keep them clean and safe. While sticking to a cloth mask has better environmental benefits, if not kept sanitary, it can be a tool for spreading harmful bacteria and viruses. As you aim to protect others, here’s how to keep yourself safe.
Wearing your mask correctly
Before you put on your mask, remember to wash your hands, after which you should secure it safely over your nose and mouth. Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face, all the while ensuring you can breathe properly and easily
Removing your mask safely
Handling only the ear loops or ties, untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops to remove the mask. Fold the outside corners together and place it in a secure laundry bag/area. It’s also important to remember not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth when removing it, and wash hands immediately after.
Keeping your mask clean
Your reusable mask can easily be washed with other laundry items in a washing machine. Use regular laundry detergent and an appropriate warm water setting for the cloth used to make the mask.
If you choose to wash your mask by hand, soak it for 5 minutes in a bleach solution made up of 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) of 5.25%–8.25% bleach per gallon of room temperature water or 4 teaspoons of 5.25%–8.25% bleach per quart of room temperature water.
Discard the solution and rinse the mask thoroughly, after which you can leave it to air dry or pop it in a clothes dryer along with the rest of your laundry.
Some important information to remember:
The United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people wear masks in public and when around people who don’t live in your household.
Masks should NOT be worn by children under age 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
Do NOT use a mask meant for a healthcare worker. Currently, surgical masks and N95 respirators are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders.