Always wear a clean mask

22/06/2020

Nelson Mandela University staff and students have been working hard to support the country’s fight against Covid-19 with many people volunteering, designing & making masks, assisting with designing/making other protective equipment and designing & implementing technology-based apps & programmes.

Back at home, however, it is important to remember the basics such as keeping your mask clean.

Why wear a mask?

Wearing a mask protects others when you sneeze or cough and while you're talking as respiratory particles are transmitted into the air.  Therefore, always wear a mask as you may be a carrier of the virus without displaying symptoms, so you may have it and be spreading it without even knowing.

How to wash your mask

To maximise the effectiveness of your face mask, it's important to keep it clean.  Cloth masks can be hand or machine washed with the hottest possible water and a heavy-duty detergent to break down dirt and sweat on the interior surface of the mask.

If someone in your household is ill, is coughing and sneezing into the mask, or has a compromised immune system - properly clean the mask and add a disinfectant to the washing water.  When handling soiled masks, it's a good idea to wear disposable gloves and keep the masks and gloves away from your face.

Use warm or cool water to rinse the masks.  Dry them in direct sunlight or on the highest heat cycle in a tumble dryer.

When the masks are dry, iron them with a hot iron, and store them in a covered container until you are ready to wear them.  It's a good idea to have a few masks that can be rotated out, so a clean one is always available.

Cloth masks can be re-used until they're torn or no longer fit the face of the wearer.

Disposable masks made from non-woven fibres cannot be cleaned safely at home.  Exposure to excessive amounts of water and cleaning products will destroy the fibres and can damage the carbon filtration systems of masks.

Keeping your mask clean

Before you put on a face mask, wash your hands, or use hand sanitiser.

Always be sure to place the mask’s inside surface next to your skin.  The mask should be worn tightly against the face and cover both your nose and mouth.  Try not to touch the mask while you are wearing it.

When it is time to remove the mask, slip the elastic bands from your ears, or untie the strings.  Do not grab the front of the mask to remove it from your face.  Use the strings or elastic bands to handle the mask before washing or throwing it away in a paper bag in the bin.

If the mask has a pocket that holds a removable non-woven filter, always remove the filter before washing the mask.  

If you are using a folded bandana or scarf that has detachable elastic ear bands, remove those as well.

Thereafter wash your hands again.

For more information about making your own masks and other related information visit our #MaskUpMandela page