The same principles ultimately apply when making your own mask or buying a new face covering. Follow these simple steps when choosing a mask or designing your own to ensure you end up with the best mask for you:
It’s clear by now that you should keep your face mask dry and clean, but what materials should you avoid when buying or making a face covering?
It’s recommended not to buy masks made out of fleece. Fleece masks actually act to increase the number of respiratory droplets being released into the air.
Scarves, neck gaiters, and other face covers were designed to keep you warm, not stop the spread of water droplets. Many of these materials are too thin or simply fail to trap moisture. When it’s cold, wear your mask underneath a scarf to ensure the protection of yourself and others around you. If you only have a neck warmer to hand, fold it over so that you have at least two layers covering your mouth and nose.
There’s no one size fits all approach to washing your mask, a touch of common sense is therefore required.
If you’re working from home, it's likely you wear your mask less frequently and therefore don’t need to wash it every day. One alternative to washing after every use is to have a number of masks on you so you can rotate through them. This might be particularly useful for someone who is in a humid, warm climate or someone doing regular exercise in their mask.
If you are worried you’ve been exposed or have come into contact with someone who is possibly symptomatic, wash your mask immediately on a 60 degree wash. A similar principle should be applied if you are seeing someone vulnerable, wash your mask beforehand.
Once you’ve washed your mask, make sure it still fits snuggly against your face. Cotton is a tough material that actually gets stronger when wet. As a rule of thumb, it can therefore be washed at 60 degrees without losing its shape. Synthetics are more likely to shrink. It’s worth checking the care label on your mask before washing.
It is still important to wash the fabric at a high enough temperature in order to kill any bacteria. This is particularly important for masks that are regularly used or exercised in, as damp masks can become a breeding ground for bugs and moisture will help retain the virus.
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