Kitchn posted this great article with tips from Jade Flinn, a nurse educator for the Biocontainment Unit at Johns Hopkins Medicine who specializes in personal protective equipment (PPE), for cleaning, as well as suggestions on how often to clean your face protection. For example”
She says a good rule of thumb is to treat your mask like you treat your undergarments.”I always recommend that you change your mask like you change your underwear: daily.”
As far as cleaning and sanitizing your face coverings?…Here’s what Kitchn and Flinn say works best.
Launder cloth masks and bandanas, but wash them separately.
You can launder DIY cloth masks or bandanas in the washing machine, wash them separate from your other garments. Use the hottest setting on both your washer and dryer, and use regular laundry detergent according to the instructions — those precautions should be enough to kill germs lurking on your mask.
Also, be conscious of which parts of the mask you do and don’t touch while removing, sanitizing, or discarding. Consider the exterior of the mask, and your hands, soiled after going out in public. “When you wear PPE, there should be a mindset change where you’re a bit more conscious of your environment,” she says. “It’s important to be aware of what you are touching.”
To disinfect surgical masks and N-95 respirators
If you happen to have these harder to find masks, you can re-use them as you need to, but don’t throw them in the laundry. Instead, you should hanging a contaminated mask to dry, or leaving the mask in a paper bag for 72 hours before wearing it again (that’s the longest amount of time the coronavirus is expected to live on any surface). Hopefully you have more than one mask at home so you can rotate them.
“Paper is important here, because it’s a breathable material. Plastic bags could have negative effect and act as an incubator for whatever fluid was inside of the mask.
Also, make sure to “keep an eye on the integrity of the mask to make sure it’s still going to block out airborne particles.”
Can UV rays from the sun disinfect face masks?
“While UV rays can technically zap pathogens — some health care facilities use special UV equipment to disinfect masks — Flinn says it’s not a good idea to try sanitizing your mask by leaving it out in the sun. This is especially true for surgical masks and N-95 respirators.” Flinn says, “There’s a piece of foam at the bridge of the nose, which could disintegrate in sunlight.”
Can you use a steamer to sanitize a face mask?
Although shown in the video above, “skip the steamer when it comes to your mask, steam could be effective in disinfecting a mask, but it’s not a good idea on PPE because there’s no way to know whether you’re using enough heat or humidity to kill the virus. Also, masks are multi-layered, and the steamer will only penetrate the surface. Washing in the laundry is a more reliable way to get the gunk out of the masks’s fibers.
When is it time to get rid of a face mask?
If it’s visibly soiled, if there’s obvious wear on fibers, or if any part of it is damaged, including the ear loops, throw them in a trash can in your home. Best recommendation is to just take it out to your outside garbage immediately, and, as always, to wash your hands thoroughly after coming into contact with anything that could be contaminated.
Photo and Video: YouTube, Inside Edition