(AscendHealthy.com) – Most of us have at least a few face masks, and depending on the area, wearing one could be mandatory for most adults and children when out in public. Keeping them clean is just as important as wearing and handling them correctly, but some people might not be doing enough to ensure they’re sanitized correctly between uses. We can help.
Here’s How to Sanitize Your Face Mask.
Cloth masks are by far the most available, just because they’re so easy to make, so most of us have at least one or two of these lying around. They need to be washed between every use to ensure they don’t turn into wearable Petri dishes, which may lead to more harm than good. According to the CDC, you can clean them by tossing them in the washing machine or sanitizing them by hand.
To clean using a washing machine, set the water temperature as hot as it will go and use a regular detergent. Johns-Hopkins University recommends that people who are sensitive to perfumes opt for unscented detergent. Use the highest setting when machine drying.
To wash by hand, soak masks in a fresh bleach solution using room-temperature water. Use 1/3 cup of bleach to every 1 gallon of water, and make sure the bleach is 5.25%–8.25% sodium hypochlorite. Other types of bleach, like “color-safe” varieties, may not have the same sanitizing power. Soak masks for 5 minutes and then rinse all materials well using warm or cool water.
It’s important to note that people with asthma shouldn’t expose their lungs to bleach solutions. Hand-scrubbing with soap and hot water may be a suitable alternative, as long as the masks get a spin in the dryer. When air-drying, it’s best to lay masks flat in a place where they’ll receive direct sunlight. Never try to wear a wet or damp mask.
Some medical personnel may have access, and some people might have had one or two of these left over from old home improvement or cleaning projects, but most of us aren’t going to have a bunch of N95 masks lying around. They’re sold for single-use, but some researchers have found their lifespan can extend much longer than that. With good masks in such short supply, why waste what you’ve got?
Researchers have found that an oven heated to 160 degrees Fahrenheit will do the trick. Place masks in a sealed, oven-safe bag (just to be safe) and heat for 30 minutes. Other research has found a hair dryer on its hottest setting used on a mask for 30 minutes will also work.
Have a pressure cooker? Loma Linda University says you can use one to sanitize an N95 mask up to five times (and a cloth mask as many times as needed) without reducing its effectiveness. Add 2 1/8 cup distilled water to a 6-quart cooker (use 3 cups for an 8-quart cooker) and use a rack to keep masks from getting wet. Use a paper bag (up to three masks per bag) to protect the masks; fold and clip or staple to seal and hang from the rack. Seal the unit and set the function to “sous vide,” with the heat at 140 degrees Fahrenheit. “Cook” for 30 minutes and air dry.
A clean mask ensures you’re going out with the most effective barrier possible, protecting others while also keeping your lungs safe from any previous hitchhiking germs. Have a few on hand, and wash them as often as necessary so that you can always have a clean one on hand. It doesn’t take that much time or effort, and a small amount of prevention, in this case, could go a long way.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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