Water bottles, wipes, tissues, bandaids – moms are known for carrying all the things for their family on the go. As a mom of two, I’ve now added masks to the list of things I can’t leave home without.
These days, we all know we need to wear our masks in public places to block germs from spreading either to us or from us. But it’s important to remember that the way you handle and clean your mask also plays a huge role in keeping you and others safe.
From what I’ve seen so far, mask hygiene seems to vary widely, because people simply aren’t aware of how to wear and care for them properly. So, we did some research that will hopefully help you too.
Here are some simple steps to follow each time you use your mask to make sure it’s doing its very important job.
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before touching your mask. Each time you put on or take off your mask, make sure you’re doing so with clean hands.
- Once your mask is on, keep your hands off. Just like we’ve all had “don’t touch your face” drilled into our heads over the last few months, we need to resist the urge to constantly adjust a mask once it’s on. If you do need to touch it, wash your hands right away
- Don’t pull your mask down or let it hang. This just creates the opportunity for the inside of the mask to be contaminated. And remember, you’re about to put that thing back on your face. Place it on securely over your nose and mouth, then let it be!
- Take your mask off by the loops or strings only. Avoid touching the front of your mask when you remove it.
- Fold your mask with the inside facing out. The inside is the clean side, the area that didn’t potentially come in contact with outside germs. Keep that facing out at all times. And remember, you’re still just holding the mask by the loops or strings.
- Store your mask in a paper bag after use. You don’t want to carry your mask in a purse or pocket. A plastic bag will work if you don’t have paper. Just drop it in (keeping it folded so the inside faces out) and close up the bag until your next errand.
So, when you get home with your safely bagged masks, how do you make sure they’re clean and ready to use again?
Fortunately, the cleaning part is pretty straightforward. Here are some basic guidelines to follow for keeping your masks (and hopefully your family) clean and germ-free:
- Wash masks daily. While it’s still being studied, experts believe that Covid-19 can survive for hours or even days on some surfaces, so it’s not ideal to reuse masks day after day. Some sources say the frequency of washing your mask should depend upon your frequency of use, but if you want to take the guesswork out of it, daily washing is an easy rule of thumb. (I know – more laundry! Sorry.)
- The washer and dryer do the trick. For the cloth masks that most people are wearing, a run through the washing machine and dryer will get them sufficiently clean. Covid-19 virus is easily destroyed by detergent, no matter what temperature water you use. The heat from the dryer is a bonus for eliminating germs.
Another question I had when masks became the most unexpected, must-have clothing item of 2020 – how many do I need? Since it’s recommended to wash masks after each use, try to have two masks per family member so you’ll always have one available if the other is in the wash. While tons of retailers are getting into the mask-making business, I’ve found that Etsy has lots of cute options – including characters for the kids, which may make them more excited to don those masks in the first place.