Working out how to make your face mask work best, without working too hard is almost as confusing as this sentence.
Which is why we've pulled together a little guide on how to integrate face masks easily into your routine.
How many masks will you need?
At least have two. They need washing and they need wearing, and it's near impossible to do both at the same time - so have a minimum of two.
The rest depends on your current situation.
The majority of our team are WFH and are only leaving the house for groceries a few times a week. We are averaging between 3-4 masks each.
On the other hand, some of our glorious packing team is in the warehouse 5 days a week (social distancing of course), so they each have about 5-6 masks that they rotate through. They wouldn't wear the same mask to work, and then to the supermarket or for a walk later in the day which is why they need more.
How should I remove my mask safely?
Exactly as you would imagine.
Grab hold of the ear loops. Don’t touch the front of the mask while you’re removing it. Remove the filters if your mask has them and toss them in the bin.
Fold up your mask and pop it directly into the washing machine or your laundry bag.
Then wash ya'll hands!
How do I wash my mask?
The official answer is with water that is as warm as is ideal for the mask fabric. Cotton, linen and durable synthetics can all withstand 60 degrees.
In general, it is better for them if you alternate hot washes with cooler ones, as some shrinkage is possible over time - bit in the interest of killing viruses, we think the benefit of a clean load outweighs the possibility of slow shrinkage. Germs and heat are not friends.
At temperature, you don't need to add bleach, just your regular detergent will do. Soap is also great for breaking down the virus membrane.
If you want to hand wash, the great news is you can. You'll be inclined to lower the temperature so your hands are more comfortable - just make sure you don't drop it to 'cold', or go scant on the detergent amount. Err on the side of caution.
Then finally, and very importantly - get them completely dry. While we're not big fans of dryers, if it's what you gotta do... Don't create a damp environment in your mask. It'll stink and become a bacteria refuge. Not fun on your face.
How often should I be washing my mask?
A cloth mask should be washed after each and every use.
Germs can stay on all sorts of textiles (fabric included) for way longer that you would imagine, so it's safer for you and those around you if you wash it regularly.
Will leaving my mask in the sun kill the germs?
Unfortunately not. The Earth’s ozone layer blocks most of the germ-killing UV rays (UV-C). Natural sunlight simply doesn’t have the oomph needed to kill those nasty germs.
What is the best material to purchase?
Here are a some notes on each of the commonly available fabrics.
Stitched cotton: This is the most effective at impending droplet dispersal (according to a recent study published in the API). It can withstand high washing temperatures, and is *somewhat* breathable, so it's a very solid choice. Interestingly, two layers of cotton and one layer with a polyester blend is the most effective variety.
Linen: Less effective and more breathable, go figure. It's still not as bad as silk and some other fabrics, so it's still a solid choice if that's what's available.
Polyester / spandex: Aka the coverings that look sporty. These were proven to be the least effective of all material tested. Uh oh. Although blend dependant they're also not as good at withstanding higher wash temperatures
Bandanas: We know this isn't a 'fabric', but worth a mention that due to the fact they they are usually single layer cotton, they're not as effective as stitched masks - droplets can still disperse upto 1m.
Just while we're here on effectiveness, the mask is all about the fit; a good fabric loosely draped will not be as good as a tight fitting inferior fabric. Go for fit first!
PS. As you know by now, these pointers are amalgamation of third party medical advice, experience and common sense - not a go-to bible from WHO - so please view them as a causal guide, not suitable for all situations.