COVID-19 and face masks: Essential information

August 7, 2020
7 minute read
Cristian Halati

Combined with other measures such as social distancing and proper hygiene, COVID-19 face masks are an invaluable infection control tool.  

This blog aims to provide essential guidance for choosing a good COVID-19 mask, wearing it properly to ensure maximum protection from the virus, and caring for your mask.

The blog was written in accordance with official guidance from the World Health Organisation and the UK Government.   

1. Types of masks and where you need to wear one

Currently, all members of the public are required by law in England to wear a face mask in a variety of settings. You can find the full list of places where you need to wear a face mask here.  

Masks are broadly divided into two categories:

Medical masks are intended to protect the wearer against infection and are regulated as personal protective equipment.  

For the general public, the government recommends face coverings. These are intended to protect those around you by preventing further transmission.  

2. Choosing a good face mask

You can find a wide selection of masks available for purchase, including reusable masks and single use face coverings.  

For optimal protection and breathability, the World Health Organisation Recommends that face masks should be comprised of specific fabric materials and should ideally have three layers:

You can find more information from the WHO website here.

3. Putting on the face mask

Though putting on your face mask may seem straightforward, it is important to be mindful of optimal hygiene. As such, always begin by washing or sanitising your hands as advised by the NHS. Do this before touching your mask. Thereafter, proceed by:

4. Caring for Your Face Mask

If using a reusable mask, you should wash it daily after use. Single use face masks should not be used more than once and must be discarded accordingly.  

If your reusable face mask has a middle layer that is insertable, be sure to remove it before washing your mask, and add a new layer after the mask has dried.  

Masks can be easily cleaned by simply washing them with your regular laundry, while using an appropriate wash setting and laundry detergent.  

Manual washing is also an option and can be done by preparing a bleach solution comprised of 4 tablespoons of household bleach to a quarter of gallon of room temperature water. The bleach should be intended for disinfection.  

To wash your mask manually, simply soak it in the prepared solution for 5 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with water.  

You can either air dry your mask or use a tumble drier.

For more information about government guidelines on wearing face masks click here.

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