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CDC details common face mask mistakes


Many retail businesses are requiring their customers to wear a face mask upon entering. Whether it’s required or you are choosing to wear a face mask to help stop the spread of COVID-19, common issues have risen due to the possibility of cross contamination, as well as the effectiveness of the face mask itself.

There are several guidelines which have been issued by the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) to help maximize the protection your homemade face mask brings you.

Avoiding common laundry mistakes and keeping your face mask clean is the key to its ability to help protect yourself and others. According to the CDC, a mild detergent and water is all that is needed to clean a mask. While that may sound easy enough, several other factors are needed to ensure a fabric face mask stays intact and continues to be safe to use.

It is recommended to wash your face mask after each use, even when you have a disposable filter inserted. Avoid using any harsh chemicals that will degrade its effectiveness over time. The CDC says to dry your face mask in a hot dryer, instead of hanging it up to air dry. Once the mask is completely dry, it should be stored in a clean container or bag before use.

Unless the mask has been washed and dried, it is not recommended to share your mask with anyone else. Furthermore, “you should be the only person handling your covering,” the CDC states.

If possible, you should have more than one face mask to use, which should contain more than one layer of fabric, with the option to insert a disposable filter. You should rotate the face masks daily so you’re not having to wash one every single day.

Washing fabric masks as frequently as they need to be washed, especially if you opt for hot water, can break down fibers more quickly, which in return, degrades the fabric. While no one claims for these masks to be 100% effective in filtering the coronavirus, a worn-out face mask will be less effective in capturing airborne particles.

A study by the American Chemical Society has found that any gaps around the edges of a mask can “decrease its efficiency by more than fifty percent.” Which means, regardless of the material your mask is made of, it will only help you and others if it fits properly.

Household materials can be used to add extra filtration to your mask. Coffee filters, paper towels and even nylon stockings are all options to utilize. When using an extra filter like the ones mentioned, test your mask prior by making sure you can breathe through the material, ensuring air goes through, instead of around. Place the chosen filter between the layers of fabric and discard the filter after each use.

Once your mask is on, any excess touching of your mask can transfer germs onto your face. So, try not to move or adjust your mask until you are fully ready to take it off. When removing your mask, don’t touch the fabric part where possible germs may be trapped. Handle the mask only by the ear loops or ties, and wash your hands immediately afterward.


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