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Know how to use, wash and store face masks


According to a study, face masks may have prevented the spread of COVID-19. Read on to know a few guidelines on how to use, wash and store it.

Written by Sanyukta Baijal |Updated : June 13, 2020 9:07 PM IST

Ever since the outbreak of the new coronavirus, leading health organizations and health experts have been advising people to cover their faces with masks in order to prevent the spread of the virus. And according to a recent study, the importance of wearing a mask to ward off the virus has been proved.

Face masks essential for containing spread of COVID-19

As per a new study published in PNAS: The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, face masks may have prevented tens of thousands of infections. The spread of the virus changed dramatically and the daily new infection rate fell by about 3 per cent per day when mask-wearing rules were implemented on April 6 in northern Italy and April 17 in New York City. This protective measure alone significantly reduced the number of infections, by over 78,000 cases in Italy from April 6th to May 9th and over 66,000 in New York City from April 17 to May 9.

According to researchers, the other precautionary measures like social distancing, quarantine and isolation and hand sanitizing which were implemented by governments all over the globe can only help minimize virus transmission by direct contact, but covering your face can help prevent airborne transmission. This is because the unique function of face covering blocks atomization and inhalation of virus-bearing aerosols.

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How to wear a mask?

Wearing a mask is not enough, you should be aware of how to wear it properly. Therefore, here are some key points to be kept in mind if you are wearing a fabric mask

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based sanitizer before wearing a mask.
  • Check your mask properly and make sure it is not damaged from anywhere.
  • Wear your mask properly such that it covers your face and nose.
  • There should be no gap between your face and the mask.
  • To avoid contamination of your hands, do not touch the outer layer of the mask while you are wearing it. If you by mistake touch your mask, be sure to wash/sanitize your hands.
  • Make sure your mask is not too tight or too lose.

How To clean your face mask?

As per CDC guidelines, both hand washing and machine washing are suitable for cleaning your face mask. If you choose machine wash, then put your cloth mask in a mesh washing bag first to protect it from getting torn in the machine. You can use regular laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate water setting for the cloth which is used to make the face covering. But, if you don't have access to a washing machine, or you choose to hand wash your mask, then be sure to remove dirt and grime from the sink or the place where you're going to wash it. Once you're done cleaning the sink, close the drain and fill it with hot water, add one spoon of detergent, and gently wash the mask with your hands along with the solution. Once you have already soaked the face covering in the solution for 5 minutes, rinse thoroughly under the tap water. Now squeeze the mask and lay it completely flat to let it dry.

How to store your face mask?

It is very important to store your face mask safely as it may catch the virus if kept anywhere carelessly. Keep your face covering in a reusable pouch or a new paper bag away from the reach of children. Also make sure not to throw it anywhere in the house to keep it safe from germs.

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