There is no denying COVID-19 has changed the way we live our lives. One of the most obvious changes is wearing a face mask in public. With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on wearing a mask when in public, fabric masks are becoming a normal part of our daily routines. Let’s take a look at what you need to know as well as how to take care of fabric face masks.
Why Wear a Mask?
The CDC has made it clear that wearing a mask in public can help slow the spread of COVID-19. Since transmission of the virus occurs when droplets from the mouth or nose are expelled and another person comes in contact with those droplets, face masks create a barrier. The virus is also considered a highly transmissible agent meaning it spreads easily and quickly through a community. It is possible for the contagions to spread from one person to another simply talking or breathing in the same confined area. This is why the CDC has released guidance on wearing a mask in public spaces and maintaining the 6 feet of recommended social distancing. In addition to protecting yourself and others, many businesses are also requiring face masks to enter the business.
The CDC has put forth guidelines on wearing face coverings. These guidelines are to help people choose appropriate cloth masks for a better barrier.
Cloth masks or coverings should:
- Fit closely but comfortably against the side of the face.
- Be secured to the face with ties or ear loops.
- Consist of multiple layers of fabric.
- Permit breathing without restriction.
- Be able to be washed and machine dried.
Caring for Masks
When it comes to how to take care of fabric face masks, there are a few common questions most people have on the matter. The goal is to make sure your mask is clean, close fitting, and able to maintain the barrier of protection. Let’s look at the most common questions regarding fabric mask care.
How often should fabric face masks be washed or cleaned?
Cleaning is one of the most important aspects in how to take care of fabric face masks. The frequency of washing will depend on the frequency of use. If you do not wear your mask daily, you can simply wash it after use. The Mayo Clinic recommends washing your fabric face mask after each day of wearing it. Some people may think it is acceptable to wear their mask more than once because they only wore it a short time, but it is important to remember that the length of time worn is not the deciding factor in when to wash it. It is crucial to remember that the contagion is suspected to live on surfaces for anywhere from hours to three days. These contagions could be on the exterior of your mask from coming in contact with someone not wearing a mask and carrying the virus. When you take the mask off and put it back on without washing, you are potentially exposing yourself to contagions. You should always wash your fabric mask after each day of use just like underwear.
How do I store my fabric mask?
Masks should be stored properly when not being worn. Most people wear their mask while running errands and then take it off while in the car. You do not want to simply leave the mask on the seat next to you. They should never be stored in a pocket, bag, or purse where they can contaminate other items you commonly touch. The proper way to store or transport a fabric mask is to carefully fold the mask so the possibly contaminated outside is folded inward against itself. You should place it in a clean or new paper bag and then at the very least apply hand sanitizer but preferably wash your hands after touching the mask. You shouldn’t leave your mask in the car in between trips out in public. This will only lead to a lack of proper washing and further contamination. It is also not recommended to hang the mask from the ear straps as this may loosen the overall fit and make it a less effective barrier.
How do I safely clean my fabric face mask?
You can wash the face mask in the washer with regular laundry detergent. Some people prefer to use a lingerie bag to wash their mask when washing with other items, so the ear elastics do not get pulled or stretched out when tangled with other items in the wash. Face masks can also be handwashed with laundry detergent. Reshape the mask and put it in the dryer on medium setting. If no dryer is available, you may reshape and air dry. Some people prefer a perfectly smooth mask and our chambray style masks can be placed when damp over a balled-up set of socks and ironed smooth. Ironing helps to sanitize the mask if you did not use a dryer. Otherwise, the minimal amount of wrinkles will smooth out upon wearing for a while simply from the moisture from your breath
When is it time to replace my fabric mask?
Loose fit: Since your mask needs to fit closely to your face, a very loose mask will not contain droplets and air leaks going in or out. With SwaddleDesigns masks you can simply tie a twist knot in the ear elastic for a snugger fit to your face.
Change of Seasons: Choose the best fabric for your environment. If you live in a cold environment or it’s winter, you may prefer wearing our 2-layer flannel mask. In summer, or if you live in a warm environment, you may prefer our chambray style masks.
You’re ready for a fresh style: It’ always fun to get a new look or fresh style. We have many styles and colors to choose from to meet your fashion needs.