How Often Should You Clean or Reuse Your Face Mask?

By Belo Medical Group on October 27, 2020

We’re pretty sure you’ve asked yourself this question a couple of times. And we’re also sure you’ve reused your disposable face masks without finding out the answer. You just decided when you deemed it necessary. So, let us help you out a little bit here. Yes, you can reuse your disposable face masks…but under certain conditions only.

According to the Department of Emergency Health Services at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, the goal is really not to reuse disposable face masks (i.e. N95 and surgical masks). They advised that the best practice would be single-use. But given the environmental repercussions of disposing face masks after one use, not to mention the dwindling supply for our brave frontliners, the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued some guidelines when we can reuse disposable face masks.

First, put on and take off your mask very carefully. This means, washing your hands before putting it on, before taking it off, and after you take it off. According to the CDC, as much as possible do not touch the front of the mask. The front of the mask is the most contaminated part. When taking off your mask, take off the straps first then remove without touching the front. A nurse educator from the Biocontainment Unit at Johns Hopkins Medicine advises to put the masks in paper bags with good ventilation after taking it off. This way, the masks can be aired out.

If you want to reuse your disposable mask, you can try putting it in an oven for about 30 minutes at 70 degrees Celsius. Just make sure the material of the mask is not flammable. You can also hang it above a pot of boiling water to kill the virus.

If you’re using cloth masks, make sure to wash it every after use. Do not reuse cloth masks without washing. According to a 2015 study, cloth masks have a higher moisture retention and poor filtration compared to disposable ones. Reusing cloth masks will only increase your risk of infection.

Once you’ve decided that you cannot reuse your disposable or cloth masks, discard them properly. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), you should discard your masks in a closed bin and wash your hands with soap and water right after.

To know more information on how to properly put on, use, take off, and dispose of a face mask, you may check the WHO’s infographic here.

Stay safe, Belo Beauties!

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