Simply wearing a mask isn’t enough
Whether you’re using a medical grade, disposable or DIY face covering, remember this: masks only work when worn and cared for correctly. Don’t make these mistakes.
Using the wrong materials
Ideally, a mask should be effective at filtering out coronavirus particles and also be made of breathable fabric. After all, if it’s not comfortable, you’re less likely to wear it correctly. A study found that certain fabrics have an edge in both attributes. When researchers studied 30 materials ranging from bra pads to coffee filters, those that fared best were lightweight denim, paper towels, and 100 percent cotton bedsheets with an 80 to 120 thread count. Fabrics made with natural fibres and a tighter weave were also shown to be better at filtering out virus particles. Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you hold your fabric up to the light and can see through it, the weave is too loose. Additionally, whatever material you use, it should be machine washable and dryable, so you can clean it regularly.
Putting it on and taking it off incorrectly
If you remember nothing else, remember to wash your hands first so you’re not inadvertently transferring virus particles to your mask and face. Remember to scrub your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds immediately before and after putting on a mask, and again immediately before and after removing it. “The main message is hand hygiene,” says Ann Marie Pettis, RN, the president-elect of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC). “You can’t overdo it.” Just be sure to moisturise frequently so your skin doesn’t develop small abrasions that could invite infection, she adds.
After you’ve washed, handle the mask only by the ear loops or ties. Secure one end first, and then stretch it over your mouth and nose. If you wear glasses, put those on last. To prevent fogging, wash them first with soapy water. You could also try FogTech DX wipes.
When taking off the mask, remove it from behind, taking care again to use the ear loops instead of touching the fabric. If your mask has ties, undo the bottom one first, then the top one. Finally, pull the mask away from your face and then down.