The coronavirus mainly gets transmitted through air droplets while we breathe. When a person coughs, sneeze, talk, shout or sing air droplets travel into the air. These air droplets land in the mouths or noses of people transmitting the infection.
Preventing these air droplets from entering the atmosphere will prevent the infection from spreading. Wearing masks can help in this; it is a simple cloth barrier to prevent infected air droplets from reaching others.
Wearing masks is not only for people with COVID-19, as per several studies, some people may not develop coronavirus symptoms but can be a carrier. The person may not be aware of this as they do not develop symptoms.
Apart from not letting the air droplets enter the atmosphere, the mask also filters the air you inhale. Even a contaminated mask also has the potential to spread the disease. Therefore, it’s important to keep your filter(mask) clean.
It is essential to have at least two masks to use the clean mask when the other one is being cleaned. The masks that cannot be cleaned should ideally be discarded after every use.
This article will help you know how you can manage to keep some common mask types clean and sanitized. You will get to know how you can handle medical-grade masks that cannot be cleaned easily outside of a medical setting.
Before discussing sanitizing your masks, you should know not everyone needs to wear a mask; let’s see which people should or should not wear a mask.
Who Should Wear A Mask?
- Everyone of the age of 2 years or above should wear a mask in public settings.
- Wear a mask in case you are caring for someone who is sick or a COVID patient is in your house.
- In case you are sick and need to be around people or animals.
Who Should Not Wear Masks?
The Center For Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) recommends some instances when wearing masks may not be feasible, such as:-
- Children younger than 2 years should not wear masks.
- People having difficulty while breathing.
- Anyone who is not conscious, incapacitated, or unable to remove the mask on their own.
- People with sensory, cognitive, or behavioral problems might find wearing masks difficult tasks. They should not wear masks.
How Can I Properly Sanitize Your Masks?
An infectious diseases specialist, professor of pharmacy practice at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Debra Goff has some instructions regarding cleaning the masks.
According to her, masks like cloth masks, bandanas, scarves, and neck gaiters are the types of masks that can be cleaned, sanitized, and reused.
You can machine wash your mask or can clean it with your hands as well. Let’s see how?
- Before cleaning your mask, you need to wash your hands first and then remove your mask without touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. Put your masks directly into your washing machine and do not forget to wash your hands again.
- It is recommended to use a regular laundry detergent along with bleach and warm water the best for the fabric type cloth of your mask.
- After washing, try drying your mask on the heat until it’s completely dry.
In case you wish to wash your mask with your hands, the steps are quite common.
- Wash your hands before and after taking off your masks without touching your mouth, nose, and eyes.
- In order to disinfect your masks, soak the mask in a bleach solution having 4 teaspoons of household bleach for each quarter of water for at least 5 minutes.
- Followed by rinsing thoroughly with water and allow the mask to air-dry in sunlight.
What About Medical-Grade Masks?
Not all masks can be sanitized and reused. According to Kaiming Ye, Ph.D., professor, department chair of biomedical engineering, director of the Center of Biomanufacturing for Regenerative Medicine at Binghamton University, State University of New York, says that some types of masks are designed for single-use only, such as N95 and surgical masks.
This means on average, some masks should be disposed of in the trash after wearing. However, they can be reused but in professional settings only if properly disinfected, such as N95 masks should be disinfected by UVC germicidal irradiation or vapor phase hydrogen peroxide.
However, no tests have been performed on the surgical masks for disinfection or reuse due to their low demand. Once the mask is dirty, torn, or saturated with moisture, you should not reuse the mask, it is of no use then.
Once the mask is clean and intact, please keep it in a clean paper bag or other breathable containers. But, in fact, such masks should not be reused.