Phone, wallet, keys – and face mask. Our new must-have whenever we leave the house is in near constant use. That’s why we all need to make sure we’re nailing the right mask-cleaning routine.
Here’s what experts say when it comes to washing techniques.
Is cleaning it in a washing machine safe?
Laundry experts say cleaning a face mask in a washing machine is fine, as long as you use a full or universal detergent in powder or granule form and set the machine to 60 degrees celcius.
You should also avoid environmentally friendly ECO programmes during the washing process, as they may not reach the necessary temperature.
Officials at the World Health Organization (WHO) and other health bodies have also underlined that 60 degrees celcius is the vital threshold for washing a mask.
If you don’t want to clean your mask in the washing machine, you can also do this by hand. Simply boil it in a pot with water for about 10 minutes. You can use a wooden spoon or something similar to move the mask around without burning your fingers.
Once the water has cooled down, wring the mask out.
But be careful: The mask fabric must be able to withstand boiling water – which cotton usually is. If other materials are used, such as rubber, a filter or certain metals, you’ll first need to find out whether you can boil them.
Can sunlight kill the coronavirus?
While laundry pros advise drying your mask in the sun if possible, health experts say you should not rely on sunlight to kill off the Sars-CoV-2 virus.
”UVC rays can slow the coronavirus, ” the American Academy of Dermatology says. “However, the sun’s UVC rays cannot penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere. This means that you cannot get UVC rays from sunlight.”
The WHO also says there is no research that has shown sunlight can be used to disinfect fabric.
Can I kill off all germs in the microwave or oven?
If the fabric can stand it, you can also clean your mask by ironing it or heating it in the oven. But be careful about putting it in the microwave – if it has any wire or other metal in it, this could be a fire hazard.
In fact, fire departments in several countries have been issuing warnings in an effort to get people to stop microwaving their masks, which can set the microwave on fire.
What happens if I don’t clean my mask?
While research on the use of old, dirty masks is limited, virologists widely believe that dirty, old or wet masks are less effective at limiting the amount of virus you would breathe out. Wet masks can also become mouldy, making them unpleasant to wear and smell bad.
Dirty masks can also have a negative impact on your skin as bacteria quickly grow in the warm, damp air under the mask. This can cause skin impurities, irritation and small pimples to develop.
Health experts say you should never wear a mask for longer than a day, but cosmetics experts advise changing it even more often than that, as skin issues can be aggravated by wearing the same mask for a long time.
It’s also important to regularly give your face time to breathe, experts from the American Academy of Dermatology say. If your job requires you to wear a mask for longer periods, make sure to give your face a 15-minute break at least every four hours. – dpa