Most Common Face Mask Mistakes
Wearing face masks in public areas has become a normal thing these days. It’s one of the things we can all do to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. “Many people can be asymptomatic carriers of the virus, so you may have it and be spreading it without even knowing,” said Tania Elliott MD, an immunologist and national spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology,. “Therefore, wearing a mask protects others in the event that you sneeze or cough while you’re talking and respiratory particles are transmitted into the air.”
Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to take care of their masks and make certain mistakes that undermine their masks’ efficiency in protecting them against COVID-19. Are you making the same mistakes? Read on to find out what you should not do with your face mask if you want to stay safe.
You’re throwing your mask in the dryer
If you’re looking for the fastest way to ruin your fabric face mask, then, by all means, throw it in the dryer! It’s true that your face mask should be washed on a regular basis, but in the washing machine, not in the dryer, according to board-certified dermatologist Anna Guanche, MD. Guanche recommends letting it “air dry in the sun.” Placing the mask on a drying rack in direct sunlight and leaving it to dry should kill the virus.
For more mask tips, discover 4 Places Where You Should Not Be Wearing a Face Mask!
You’re leaving your mask just about anywhere
Whenever you go outside, your face mask can easily get contaminated. According to Dimitar Marinov, MD, a medical expert working on the control and prevention of infectious diseases, you “should be very careful” about the place you set down your mask. “This creates the risk for cross-contamination of various surfaces and spreading the virus,” he warns.
You’re storing your mask in a plastic bag
This is a common mistake that most people make when it comes to their masks. Because they don’t exactly know what to do with the masks when they are not wearing them, most people put them inside plastic bags. According to Ashley Roxanne Peterson, DO, a resident physician in Atlanta, Georgia, this ia a major no-no.
“Many people are inappropriately storing their masks in plastic bags when it should be paper bags to increase the breathability of the storage bag and reduce infectious growth,” she says.
You’re letting your mask get wet
As we’ve said before, your fabric face masks should be washed regularly. To make sure you’re safe whenever you go outside, you should have a stash of masks to use while the other ones are drying. Leave your mask for an entire day to dry completely. A wet mask is not as effective as a dry one, warns Shan Soe-Lin, a lecturer at the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.
If you don’t have multiple masks, then wash your face mask in the evening and let it dry overnight. See also 6 Times You Should Be Wearing A Face Mask—And 3 Times You Shouldn’t.
You’re keeping your mask in a moist environment
A plastic bag is not a good idea for storing your mask. A moist environment is also not the answer if you want to maintain your mask in proper condition.
“Store your mask in a clean environment, not in an enclosed moist environment where bacteria can continue to grow,” Guanche says. Moisture is released into the air by cooking, showering or clothes drying and creates a humid environment in kitchens, laundry rooms and bathrooms. Don’t leave your face mask in any of these rooms or other areas of your house where you know there’s plenty of moisture.
You’re touching your mask without washing your hands
Washing our hands has become the new norm. This means it is mandatory that you also wash your hands before and after you touch your face mask, says Marinov. Some people forget to do it and increase their risks of catching the coronavirus after touching various surfaces with their hands and then touching their masks.
Marinov warns that even if you’ve washed your hands, you should “never touch the inside or outside of your mask”. When you want to take it off or put it on, use the ties or bands. Speaking of touching, You’ll NEVER Want to Touch These 7 Things Again After COVID-19.
You’re washing your mask with cold water
Whenever you wash your mask, you’re not just doing it to remove stains. You’re doing it to eliminate the virus, which means you need hot water. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we should “launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting.” A washing machine is an ideal instrument but if you’re hand washing your fabric mask, just know that cold water will not help you sanitize your mask.