Is Your Reusable Mask Making You Sick?

No matter what side of wearing a face mask you are on, they are a part of our daily life.

There are many types of masks with all varying protection with KN95 and N95 being near the top, then the 3-Ply ones aka Surgical Masks coming in after and of course all the new stylish, reusable masks hitting the market. Some are homemade while others are manufactured by companies.

I was talking to my friend Donna who has a Chicago Cubs mask. It is now how I identify her quickly because she ALWAYS is wearing this one. Anyway we were talking and I asked her how many she had of these because that is the only one I see her in and she said, just this one.

That surprised me so I asked… “how often are you washing it?” She stopped and said “well, not as much as I should. Maybe once a week”.

Forget COVID-19, this is bad for so many other reasons. It got me to thinking, are reusable masks actually making people sick?

Let’s look at some Face Mask “rules”, from etiquette to hygiene.

Be Well,

Different Types Of Masks…

Cloth Mask: A cloth mask is a minimal way to protect people in public settings. It’s unlikely you’ll be infected in public by airborne viral particles, especially if you practice social distancing. The real threat is touching an infected surface and then putting your hand to your face: Frequent hand-washing is a sure way to avoid COVID-19.

Don’t touch your mask,”said Dr. Lucian Davis, an epidemiologist at the Yale School of Public Health who studies respiratory infections and noted that touching the mask could transfer virus particles onto the surface. “If you do touch your mask, wash [your hands] with soap and water or with alcohol for sure.”

This is especially important with cloth masks as they are not usually produced in a sterile environment.

Disposable Masks (3-Ply and KN95): Sometimes called a medical mask, these disposable masks protects people from the wearer’s respiratory emissions. But it’s designed to protect against large droplets, splashes or sprays of bodily fluid or other type of fluid. These masks are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and offer one of the safest and easiest options. It is important to throw them away after 4 to 6 hours of use.

Wash Your Mask DAILY…

Did you know you should be washing your mask daily?

Ryan Sinclair, PhD, MPH, associate professor of environmental microbiology at Loma Linda University School of Public Health says his research supports that fabric, when not properly disinfected, are carriers for both bacteria, including E. coli, and viruses – norovirus and coronavirus.

Sinclair says pathogens like bacteria and viruses can live on cloth fabric for longer than one may think up to 8-12 hours. “Because we don’t know what germs we’ve been in contact with or how low long the germs have been active on the cloth fibers, it is crucial to regularly wash, sanitize and dry reusable face masks,” Sinclair says.

Face Mask Etiquette…

  • Always wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before you put on your mask.
  • Make sure your mask is facing the right direction, so your face is not touching the mask exterior.
  • Wear your mask snuggly over both your nose and mouth.
  • Try not to touch the mask while you’re wearing it.
  • When removing the mask, touch only the attached strings or elastic bands. Hold it or place the mask on a sanitized surface until you’re ready to or wear it again or throw directly into the washing machine when you get home. Then wash your hands again.
  • In addition, Sinclair advises washing your hands frequently, keeping surfaces at home sanitized and avoid touching high-traffic public areas, like counters, handrails and doorknobs.

    “If you practice these habits, you will be less likely to contract the virus, whether it’s on your mask or another surface,” Sinclair says.

Most Asked Face Mask Question…

  1. How often do you need to wash your facemask?
    Your facemask should be washed at least once a day. We cannot stress this enough. The virus may stay active on fabric for a long period of time, which makes it necessary to wash your mask after any of your day trips. If you suspect that someone you have been in close contact with is infected, you should put the mask in the wash immediately and use a fresh one. Apart from the virus, the masks also tend to collect any sweat, oil or makeup from skin, which may also affect your health.

    2. How should you handle your facemask after use?
    Upon returning home, we recommend that the first thing you do is take off your mask carefully and place it in the laundry bin until you can wash it. You may opt to leave it in the bin for 24 hours or more in quarantine, which is known to allow the virus to decay. Do not let the mask come into contact with any other family member.

    3. How can you disinfect cloth masks?
    A machine wash at a high temperature with quality detergents is good enough to kill the virus.

    If you prefer to hand-wash (see below for best way to hand wash) your mask, ensure that you get into every inch of the mask and clean it using the correct amount of chemical. Additionally, soaking the mask in hot water for 10-minutes and then rinsing it thoroughly will also help to remove all the pathogens. Avoid using bleach completely as the constant smell can cause nausea and headaches.

    However, if you want to avoid running a machine for for a single mask or hand washing, you can also place it in a UV Sterilizer.

    UV Light Sterilizer Box – Kills 99.9% of All Germs
    Use it on Masks, Phones, Keys and more!

    4. What is the appropriate temperature to wash a facemask?
    Viruses cannot withstand high temperatures; therefore, washing face masks at a temperature of more than 60 degrees help disinfect the mask. Since fabrics with dark colors fade after a couple of washed at high temperatures, it is advisable to make or buy the fabric mask in lighter shades.

    5. How should a facemask be dried?
    After washing your mask, it is best to dry it at a high temperature since heat also sanitizes the mask. For masks with a plastic filter and valve, you will need to be extra careful and air-dry or sun-dry them. A hairdryer can also be used as an easy and effective dryer. Sunlight is another excellent natural sanitizing agent. Since the starting temperature of an average household iron is 140 degrees Celsius, ironing the mask post-drying will provide an added measure to ensure that the virus is completely eliminated.

Best Way To Wash Your Mask…

If you don’t plan on doing laundry right after wearing the mask, you can wash it by hand. The CDC recommends creating a bleach solution consisting of:

5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) household bleach per gallon of room-temperature water, or 4 teaspoons household bleach per quart of room-temperature water

Soak the mask in the bleach solution, letting it sit for 5 minutes. Rinse it with cool or room-temperature water. You should not use the mask until it is completely dry.

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