Using a mask is one of the most important ways to protect yourself from the Covid-19 outbreak. However, many Americans are not sure how to put on, remove or even wash reusable masks. Here are some tips on how to do it.
As soon as they are decontaminated, Americans must adapt to new recommendations. Wearing a mask is one of them. It is now mandatory to wear a mask on public transportation, in certain establishments, and stores. But how to wear a mask, and what are the right gestures to adopt?
How to wear a mask properly?
The mask is there to protect others from your micro-droplets and, conversely, to protect you from the micro-droplets of others. It is therefore essential to position it correctly for it to be effective.
First, before touching your mask, wash your hands. Then take your mask and place it on your face so that the “metal bar” is over your nose. If you have a disposable mask, the colored side is the one that should face the outside. If you are unsure, there is an indication (IN/OUT) on the seam of the mask.
Hold your mask with one of your hands while the other one tightens the metal bar around the nose. You can now put the rubber bands around the ears (or tie the straps behind your head).
In the last step, pinch the top of the mask over your nose with one hand and grab the bottom edge with the other. Unfold the fold to cover your entire mouth up to your neck.
Your mask should now cover the entire lower part of your face, from the top of your nose to below your chin. Make sure that it is tight all over: there should be no gap between the mask and your face. Now that it is in place, you should not touch it again.
Good to know: the mask is useless if it is poorly positioned. If you need to remove it to eat or smoke, you will have to use another one and repeat all the steps mentioned above. It is essential not to move or touch the mask once it is in place.
How do I remove my mask?
It is essential to change your mask every 4 hours, or even every 2 hours if you work in a high-risk profession (health personnel, ephod…). Some specialists even indicate that you should not wear the fabric mask for more than 30 minutes…
It would help if you changed it as soon as it became wet or touched it. Of course, you cannot reuse it unless it is washed in the meantime.
It is essential to wash your hands before removing the mask. Grab it at the elastic band without touching the mask’s fabric or rubbing it on your face, as it may be potentially infected.
For disposable masks, dispose of them directly into a trash bag. For reusable masks, make sure you always have a small coated pouch or airtight box to put them in before you wash them.
Never place your mask on your desk, chair, or other surfaces. Avoid putting it in your jacket or pants pocket as is. Germs could spread and contaminate many areas.
How do you wash your cloth mask?
We recommend machine washing with a natural detergent and a 60°C cycle for at least 30 minutes. It is best to use the same cycle for your towels and sheets. As such, you can group them with this type of linen to avoid running your machine only for the masks.
It is contraindicated to use detergents such as bleach or disinfectant alcohol! Not only could this be harmful to your health, but these products also harm the environment. Using fabric softener is not recommended either, mainly if you use conventional products sold in supermarkets. These products are sometimes composed of allergenic or even potentially carcinogenic substances. Breathing in masks soaked in dubious substances all day long will not benefit your health, even if they smell good!
White vinegar is an excellent alternative to conventional fabric softeners. However, it tends to “eat away” at rubber bands over time.
Some people run the machine on a vacuum at 60°C after washing the masks. This is an unproven precautionary measure. In addition, it creates additional costs, both in water and energy.
Good to know: Plunging cloth masks into boiling water to clean them is not a good idea. It will damage the elastic and fiber of the fabric.
How do I dry cloth masks?
It is advisable to dry the masks as soon as the machine is finished. Ideally, the tumble dryer will be faster. But air drying is also perfect.
It is counterproductive to put the mask in the microwave or oven or even use the hairdryer to activate the drying process.
After each drying, check the mask to ensure it is not damaged or warped. This would make it much less effective. For masks offered by municipalities, a logo indicates the maximum number of washes they can undergo before being considered obsolete.
However, you can iron your mask, avoiding the elastics so as not to damage them.
What you should never do with a mask
– Never put on a mask that has already been worn and not washed several times;
– Disposable masks are for single use only, so never reuse them;
– Never slide your mask over your neck while drinking, eating, smoking, or talking on the phone;
– Do not neglect other barrier procedures just because you are wearing a mask;
– Do not touch your mask once it is on (even if something itches);
– Never share your mask with another person: a mask is personal;
– Do not put your cell phone on your mask to talk (it is advisable to clean it after hanging up and change your mask).