How to safely reuse face masks

With the pandemic happening, fewer people are inside and off the streets. However, despite cleaner roads, this does not mean a cleaner world. In fact, more trash may be added to dump sites and ocean waters. 

People are now needed to wear a mask to prevent the virus from spreading. This is a safety precaution, one that is needed and should be followed. Since the world is wearing masks, unfortunately, it adds to the pile of garbage.

To help avoid adding more trash to dump sites and waters, you can opt to use reusable masks. Although this is an environmental choice, you should still follow proper protocol on how to reuse them for your safety. 

You can safely reuse face masks by keeping these in mind:

Do Not Touch Your Mask 

When removing your mask, you should not touch the mask itself. Hold it on the ear straps and avoid touching the mask. You should avoid touching it since it is the area where there are most likely viruses. Not touching it will not only prevent you from being infected but also prevent the mask itself from being presented with more bacteria so that you can reuse it. 

Decontaminate with UV 

The best way to decontaminate a mask would require a certain machine and different types of gases that are not easily obtained in your local store, but the best alternative would be to use UV light. It is important to be able to sanitize your mask properly. It can be dangerous if the kn95 masks and other reusable masks are not sanitized properly and reused. UV light can disinfect masks and retain its function up to three times, but it would need about an hour to cleanse it every time. 

Do Not Sanitize With Disinfectant 

Studies have shown that sanitizing your mask with disinfectants like ethanol is a possible way to disinfect facemasks. However, this method is not recommended. They say once sanitized with alcohol, the quality of the mask deteriorates causing it to not be safe to use.

It is also not recommended because you will be directly exposed to a chemical. When you spray your masks with alcohol, you get to inhale them when you wear them. That is not advisable and safe. 

Store Properly 

Aside from proper handling and decontaminating, storing your mask properly will help in keeping your mask safe to reuse. You do not want it lying around somewhere. That is just unhygienic. 

Storing them after you disinfect will prevent the mask from being exposed to germs. This will keep your mask safe until your next use. There are several ways you can store your masks after use like :

  • Putting it in a brown paper bag 

  • Using a Tupperware for storage 

  • Keeping it in a ziplock bag 

  • Any kind of holder with good ventilation 

Image source: pixabay 

Keep in mind that you can’t reuse your mask all the time. It depends on how much you used it for the day. If it is overused, it would be best to dispose of it properly and use a new one. 

Reusing your mask properly will ensure your safety and will lessen the trash committed. It is also a good way to limit the number of masks used to prevent shortages in the market.

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