The guidelines from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention state that all people including children aged two and over should wear a mask whenever heading outdoors for any purpose. In addition, there is also an emphasis on buying and using a cloth mask instead of specialized masks.
This is because specialized masks including the N95 is already short in the market around the world due to their high demand because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Though N95 can provide the maximum level of protection against the coronavirus infection, they are needed by front line health care workers the most since they are at the highest risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for causing COVID-19.
Usually, normal people do not require that level of protection and can prevent the infection by following all instructions from the CDC carefully along with wearing a cloth mask while leaving the house.
When it comes to cloth masks, the good thing is that they are reusable and people do not need to buy a new mask every time they go out. However, for reusing it in a proper way, the masks also require thorough cleaning in order to keep it germ-free.
A common question that most people ask is regarding what should be used to clean a cloth mask that has been worn multiple times. According to the infectious disease physician and associate hospital epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center, Dr. Gabriela Andujar Vazquez, says that using only water and the detergent present at home is enough.
The mask can either be washed by hand or by using a washer. Both of the ways work perfectly fine. After washing, it also either be put in the dryer or air-dried.
However, the only important factor to keep in mind while beginning to wash a cloth mask is temperature. The water used in the washing process should always be warm and not cold or neutral. In addition, if using the dryer to dry, choose a high temperature.
Ideally, the best and recommended way to wash a mask is by using hot water in a washer and drying it at a considerably high temperature in the dryer. After the mask has dried, it can be ironed using linen or cotton option on an iron.
In accordance with experts, the reason for the high temperature is that it can kill the coronavirus. So, if the mask has been infected, washing with hot water can rid it of the virus effectively.
However, if the mask is infected, make sure to carry it home in a plastic bag which stops the further spread of the coronavirus to other people on the way or even on other inanimate objects in the house.
The infectious disease physician at Boston Medical Center, Cassandra Pierre, states the high risk of infection because of the high number of cases is the reason why a cloth mask also needed to be washed frequently especially if the person wearing it goes out a lot.
Since a mask is required for every small trip out of the house, Pierre recommended washing the mask by hand every other day with such a routine. In case the mask has been damaged, replace it with a new one immediately.
Since the coronavirus pandemic is likely to stay for at least another year, according to the experts at the World Health Organization. Therefore, buying multiple masks is suggested especially if a mask in use is getting washed on a daily basis as doing can damage it far more quickly.
Make sure the mask being used is reusable. Masks that come with filters are usually not reusable and can be less effective every time they are washed.