During the pandemic, there has been a lot of information about whether you should or should not wear masks, but no one is talking about whether you should reuse them. In this article, we are going to clear up everything regarding this subject.
As the number of cases around the world continues to rise exponentially, especially in countries such as Italy, Germany, the United States, Spain, and many others, it is very important that we do everything in our power to stay safe and healthy. All of us should aim to completely alter the virus’s course and stop it from spreading so efficiently. Since we still do not have a vaccine to prevent people from getting infected, all we can do is follow the safety protocols that are published by your officials and the World Health Organization.
You have probably already known about the protocols which consist of constantly washing your hands, avoiding contact with people, wearing gloves and most importantly, wearing a mask when in public places such as work, in a store or on a bus. Since the coronavirus is mostly spread through the respiratory droplets from infected people and the surfaces they land on, it is very important that you understand the proper mask etiquette. It can prevent you from touching your nose or mouth which is one of the ways you can infect yourself after touching contaminated surfaces.
Should I re-use old masks?
Most disease control organizations such as the CDC and WHO claim that you should avoid reusing old masks because they can still carry the virus on its surface and because the filtration system inside of it will start to deteriorate. Once you wash it, the entire filter will be completely destroyed and all you are left is with a piece of paper or cloth over your mouth which is not that effective.
However, CDC and WHO mostly refer to one-time use face masks which should be properly thrown away after usage. But, there are some companies out there that produce woven pads that can be added to any kind of mask you have, it doesn’t matter if it is N95 or a surgical one. You can get yourself a couple of woven pads that you can easily insert on the inside of your mask and then dispose of it after usage. A great example of such disposable filter pads is the product of winnerzen.com
Be careful when putting it on and off
Assuming that you have decided that you will be using these kinds of pads and reusing your old masks, you should understand how important it is to be careful while putting it on or off. Self-contamination is one of the biggest reasons why so many people around the globe are infected.
Your first step before doing anything is to wash your hands or at least disinfect them. After you have made sure that your hands are thoroughly cleaned, grab it by its elastics and put them over your ears without touching the center, where the filter is located. Once you are done wearing it, make sure that never touch it where the filter is located. The filter is where the particles of the virus will stick which is why you should avoid touching it with your hands. Grab the elastics around your ears and carefully pull them off. Put the filter pad inside of a plastic bag and dispose of it.
Even if you have been careful after removing it from your face, you should wash your hands again, just to be sure.
Wash your cloth facial masks
Most pharmacies are usually out of stock when it comes to these items which is why a lot of people have settled for creating their own masks at home. They can be made from all kinds of fabrics. Sure, they might not be as effective as one that is rated N95 or a surgical one, but it is still better than having your nose and mouth exposed to the COVID-19 respiratory droplets.
But, if you do plan on making your own cloth mask with a replacement filter pad, it is essential that you wash it after every use. Since the cloth or any other fabric that you plan on using does not have any kind of protective and filtration properties, the moisture of your breath can cause the virus to stick for long periods of time on its surface. So, if you come into contact with someone that is sick from the coronavirus or if you are frequently moving around in enclosed spaces, you should definitely consider washing it as often as possible.
Dry them first
This is a mistake that a lot of people have been doing this past couple of months. They put on the mask on their face as soon as they have washed it. This can lead to an increased chance of infection because the wet material makes it easier for the virus droplets to stick on it. The virus will also have an easier time to pass through the material and reach your mouth or nose.
So, before you put it on and after you wash it, you should always make sure that it has been properly dried first. Avoid using a dryer because the high temperature can destroy the thin layer of material.
Use multiple layers
If you cannot get your hands on disposable filter pads to increase your protection from the virus, you should consider using multiple layers. Some people like to wear multiple masks others prefer to put on a scarf over their mouth and nose. While something like a shirt or a scarf might not be the highest level of protection against the virus, it is still better than nothing.
Following our advice will definitely help you stay safe during the pandemic, but the most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home and with social distancing. So, if you can, reduce your movement outside as much as you can.