We all know, social distancing and wearing masks is mandatory and this will continue for a long time now. For the last few months we have been using the mask, wherever we go. But, how often do we wash it? No matter what type of mask we use, regularly cleaning our mask is a must.
Let’s take a look at simple ways on how to keep different types of masks clean.
Regularly wearing a mask comes in contact with the natural oils from our skin, which can lead to make the cloth mask dirty and stinky, eventually leading to irritation in the skin. Therefore, the cleaning of cloth masks is necessary. The question is how to clean it? Carolyn Forte, Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, suggests that all face masks should be washed with hot water in the washing machine, and tumble dry on high heat. Also, cloth masks can also be washed with hands. Lather mask with soap and scrub it, at least for 20 seconds with warm water and rinse it. You will also get many suggestions on the internet about sanitizing masks like sticking them in the microwave, oven, or a pot of boiling water and more, but these recommendations are not at all effective.
N95 Mask or Kawach Mask
The way an old coffee filter cannot be used, the same way a filter of N95 Mask can not be used. N95 Masks or Kawach masks can be decontaminated and reused only in times of shortage. Exposing N95 masks or Kawach masks to vaporized hydrogen peroxide or UV rays can eliminate harmful germs on it. UV lights have been used since forever. Such masks should be dry heated (70°C). And sanitizing them with 70% ethanol spray has been effective till now.
UVGI-A UV-C lamp (80W, 254 nm) is used to decontaminate such masks. These masks are exposed to UV radiation (≥1 J/cm^2 total dosage) for 15 minutes on each side of the mask (outer and inner). It has been said that repeated use of this method of disinfection will degrade masks over time.
cares have stated that Surgical Masks are only for
one-time use. There is as such no published literature regarding
decontamination processes of used surgical face masks. It is possible that
since they are not meant to protect the user against
transmission of air-borne diseases and that are inexpensive enough to be
treated as single use disposable items, no studies have been performed on their
decontamination for reuse.
There are no such rules regarding when and how often we should wash our face masks. It totally depends on its usage and the way we use it. But if you want to be on the safer side and be extra cautious and have come in contact with people having symptoms of any disease or suffering from cold or cough can clean your face mask after every use. Keep in mind, though, that you shouldn’t be using face masks frequently, since public health officials urge everyone to only go to grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores when they are in need of essential items.