Face mask hygiene: How often should you wash your face mask?

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A new study by YouGov has found that just 13 percent of reusable face mask wearers are washing them frequently enough and in the right way. Face masks become pointless if they aren’t clean, so it’s vital to strip them of germs regularly. Express.co.uk chatted to the experts at GotParts747 to find out how often to wash a face mask.

Unwashed face masks are not only useless in the fight against coronavirus, they are a health hazard.

According to a spokesperson from GotParts747, masks can lose some of their protective features as a result of poor hygiene practices.

In a worst-case scenario, they’ll also become a threat of viral transmission themselves, due to cross-contamination.

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How often should you wash your face mask?

Fabric face coverings are designed to be washed after every use.

The spokesperson said: “The masks trap droplets from coughs and sneezes within their cloth layers.

“These droplets could well contain germs and viruses, which must be removed before the face covering is used again.

“If masks aren’t washed after use, bacteria and other particles can build up within the fabric, posing a risk that grows more dangerous over time.”

Unwashed face masks aren’t just a danger to public health, they will cause breakouts, skin irritation and other dermatological issues.

How to wash a mask

Every day after using your face mask, you should put it in the washing machine for a thorough wash.

GotParts747’s expert said: “Cloth masks do not become less effective after multiple washes, as long as they are laundered according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

“Fabric masks will retain their protective properties for a prolonged period of time, but they must always be washed at a high temperature, using detergent to ensure that any harmful particles are removed.”

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Most masks can be washed at 60 degrees celsius but others may need to be washed on a cooler cycle, so check the instructions before you put it in the wash.

There has been some talk about masks becoming less effective over time, but this isn’t normally true.

The experts at GotParts747 explained while some masks such as surgical masks and respirators have an expiry date, the vast majority of reusable masks and fabric face coverings will maintain the same level of efficiency over time.

This means you can wash your mask every single day and keep wearing it for years.

However, you’re better off having three or more masks on rotation to make sure you always have a clean mask if you don’t have time to wash the one you wore yesterday.

Should you wash disposable masks?

No, disposable masks are not normally designed to be laundered and reused.

The expert explained: “Many face coverings now being used to protect wearers from coronavirus are disposable.

“These options, which include Teflon masks and surgical masks, tend to be used more regularly in medical settings such as hospitals, dental surgeries and clinics.

“Disposable masks provide a higher level of protection for both the wearer and those around them, with a reduced risk of cross-contamination.”

Are reusable masks better?

While disposable masks aren’t great for the environment, they are probably a safer option.

However, washable face coverings are often more practical for those in low-risk situations.

CEO of Green Polymer Systems, Shawn Sahbari said: “Reusable masks are an effective tool in the fight against coronavirus.

“As long as they are washed properly, at a sufficiently high temperature, fabric face masks will provide wearers with good levels of protection for a long time to come.

“For higher-risk situations, we advise the use of KN95 certified masks, Teflon masks or surgical masks, all of which can be disposed of immediately after use.”

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