BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Think of cloth masks like a pair of underwear.
“It’s sort of like the clothes you wear, or the underwear you wear. You want to launder that daily,” said Connie DeLeo, the infection preventionist at Baton Rouge General.
DeLeo is in charge of making sure patients are free from infections inside the hospital, and face masks play a big role in that.
She explains we wear masks to protect ourselves and others throughout the day, but we can’t forget to wash the day away.
“Every time you contaminate the mask with virus particles, or spit or makeup, or anything like that… every time you do that, it may make the mask a little more permeable,” said DeLeo.
In other words, a dirty mask may not work as well. A clean mask puts up a better fight.
“The material in the mask doesn’t have to fight spit or makeup or anything like that. It’s going to really protect you when it’s clean,” she said.
The infection preventionist says it’s best to wash our mask daily with soap and hot water. Throw it into the machine with your other loads or hand wash it. Then toss it in the dryer.
Those high heats help kill off germs.
Ideally, you want to wash your mask every day. If you can’t do that, DeLeo says aim to wash two to three times a week.
“By laundering that mask, you’re removing any virus particles on the outside of that mask,” said DeLeo.
Have a few cloth masks handy, so you can use a clean one every day.
But what about those disposable surgical masks?
“Only wear them in and out a couple of times and then dispose of them at that point. If you try to wash it with water or any type of detergent, it’ll probably disintegrate somewhat,” said Mike Chustz, the Public Information Officer for Baton Rouge EMS.
Chustz points out those blue masks are cheap. You can buy a large pack, use one for a day, and then toss it out.
N-95 masks don’t do well with soap and water either.
“It’s difficult to clean these,” Chustz demonstrated. “You can clean these with disinfectant spray and things like that. But don’t spray it full of disinfectant and put it immediately on your face because most of the air you get is coming through this mask and all of that disinfectant can make you sick. If you do spray it with any disinfectant, you need to let it sit out for a day before you reuse it.”
Keep your mask clean to help keep you safe.
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