You May Not Be Storing Your Masks Properly - Here's What Doctors Want You to Know
Freshly washed homemade face mask to protect against viruses and bacteria
Have you hidden face masks everywhere? In the center console of your car, in your handbags, in your jacket pockets? Hold! Having masks available is great (good thing you are responsible for it), but you may need to rethink how to store them to make sure you reduce the spread of bacteria and virus particles.
Regardless of whether your mask is clean or dirty, you don't want it to rub against other surfaces that you touch frequently. "For example, don't keep it in your handbag or loose in your car as it can lead to cross-contamination," said Dr. Kristin Dean, General Practitioner and Medical Director of Doctor On Demand, told POPSUGAR.
If you want to keep a mask in these places, the safest way to do this is to put it in a paper bag. "The best and most hygienic storage for our masks is in a cool, dry, breathable place that avoids contact with other surfaces. You can keep them in a paper bag that is breathable for the mask," said Natasha Bhuyan. MD, General Practitioner and West Regional Medical Director at One Medical. This is in line with the guidelines for health care workers, where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended either hanging medical-grade masks or storing them in a "clean, breathable container such as a paper bag". Dr. Bhuyan stated that the breathability of the bag "helps prevent any growth of mold".
Related: It turns out that antimicrobial masks are no more effective than your regular cloth masks
Are Antimicrobial Face Masks More Effective For COVID-19?
Where should I keep my masks at home?
If you want your masks to be more accessible, you can place a key hook or some wall hooks next to your front door. "Many people find it easiest to hang their mask on a hook to avoid the mask touching other surfaces," said Dr. Bhuyan across from POPSUGAR. Also, if you have to pass it on on the way out, you are less likely to forget your mask.
If a mask has already been worn, either throw it away if it's disposable, or try washing it immediately if it's made from reusable fabric. "Remember that the outside of your mask is considered 'dirty'," said Dr. Bhuyan. "We should wash our masks after every use. This also applies if you wear your masks for a few hours or a whole day."
Related: Why You Shouldn't Even Share Freshly Laundered Masks With People In Your Household
Is it okay to share face masks with people in your household?
Keep your mask as sterile as possible while you wear it
Mask care isn't just limited to frequent cleanings or storing toiletries - it's also how you wear them and store them throughout the day. "You should wash your hands before putting on a face mask, if you touch the mask while you are wearing it, and after taking off a used mask," said Dr. Dean. Avoid touching the fabric and covering the part of the mask. "Instead, use the ear loops to put the mask on and take it off," she said.
Also, Dr. Dean, he shouldn't "keep" the mask on his forehead or chin. "Please remember, if your mask doesn't always cover your mouth and nose, you are not wearing the mask properly," said Dr. Dean. "Wearing a mask incorrectly does not reduce the transmission of COVID-19. As a reminder, it is not recommended to pull the mask down to speak to people. This can put others at risk."
Sandra Kesh, MD, assistant medical director and infectious disease specialist at Westmed Medical Group in Westchester, NY, noted that wearing your mask improperly can put you at risk too. "Don't pull your mask under your chin while wearing it," said Dr. Kesh to POPSUGAR. "If you let the mask dangle or improperly attach it to your face, there is a possibility of cross-contamination."
POPSUGAR would like to provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date information about the coronavirus. However, details and recommendations about this pandemic may have changed since it was published. For the latest information on COVID-19, see WHO, CDC and local health authorities resources.
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