Face masks are normally meant to be disposable. However, the demand for face masks is huge, due to the sudden and unplanned spread of Covid-19 in South Africa. Masks are becoming more limited and you might find yourself in a position where you need to reuse them.
Luckily, a study by the National Academic Press foresaw this happening and researched the reusability of masks in case of a viral outbreak long before the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on that study, we shall explain how to properly reuse different types of masks.
If you do not know the different types of masks, see our previous post.
Why Reusing Your Mask Matters?
The world has been pushed into a global pandemic for the first time since the Swine Flu pandemic in 2010. The Coronavirus is primarily a respiratory disease that can cause pneumonia and has led to the deaths of thousands around the world.
Due to the nature of the disease, it can be easily transmitted once airborne. Transmission of the disease happens through getting in contact with anyone infected and through droplet transmission. By wearing a face mask you can lower your risk of infection.
It might be a common assumption that a facemask is used to filter air and in doing so stop the virus from entering through the airway and nasal cavity. But this is only true in the case of N95 mask that has been specifically designed and tested by the FDA.
These N95 masks are primarily available to the medical professions and workers. With mask being so scarce right now, even medical staff are now reusing their masks. In order to stay protected while working in contaminated areas.
Masks that are used by the general public include medical masks (Usually made from a blue material and tied behind the ears). Much like the N95 masks, these medical masks have become limited and they are not made to be used for long hours, and day after day.
Material masks are hand made masks. The masks are sewn by hand and not mass-produced. They are made to be reusable.
How To Reuse Face Masks.Depending on the type of mask you have. Reusing them properly is so important to ensure they work properly.
How to reuse N95 masks:
As advised by the National Academic Press’s study.
- Protect the mask from “surface contamination” when there is a high risk of exposure.
- Do not compromise the physical integrity of the mask when storing.
- Disinfect your hands before handling the masks and especially before and after use.
How to reuse medical face masks:
- Do not touch your mask while wearing the mask in public.
- Disinfect the mask after usage and before putting the mask on.
- Carefully hand wash the masks. Scrubbing the mask for no less than 20 seconds.
- Wash with a disinfectant if available.
- The WHO advises water of at least 60 degrees or more.
- Keep in a disinfected storage space.
Pro tip: The incubation time for the virus is 7 days. So if you have enough reusable or cloth masks to keep one in a clean storage space for 7 days. You swop them out depending on how many times you need to go to a public place.
How to reuse material/cloth face masks:
- The CDC recommends washing your mask regularly. “It should be washed typically when you are done with it,”.
- These masks are sturdy enough to be washed in a machine. Wash them alone and not with other clothes. And like in the previous section remember that your water must at least be 60 degrees.
- You have to wash the mask with a detergent or any disinfectant that you have available.
- After washing you should use hot air to dry the mask.
When it comes to sanitising a mask, the more the merrier! So feel free to go above and beyond with the above methods.