In the current situation, there is already a mask requirement in entire America. We’ll tell you how to properly disinfect your face masks.
Most federal states have already introduced a mask requirement. This usually applies to public transport and when entering shops. The remaining federal states are to follow soon. Not least because of this, many people already have even sewed fabric masks or bought.
The fabric masks primarily reduce the risk of infection for your own environment. Even people who do not show any symptoms yet can already be infected and unwittingly spread the pathogens.
When speaking, coughing, or sneezing, droplets can fly up to two meters and stick to surfaces. A fabric mask can prevent this and thus protect the environment from infection.
However, the mask can also protect us from smear infections on the mouth and nose.
In order for fabric masks to protect you and your surroundings effectively, they have to be worn properly and disinfected regularly. We’ll tell you what you need to consider.
Danger: When talking about face masks in this article, we mean mouth-nose protection made of fabric, now also known as community masks. It’s not about surgical face masks. These are made for single-use and must be disposed of after use. It is also not about so-called FFP masks. These are respirators that filter particles out of the air. These can sometimes be reused, but should then be cleaned according to the instructions for use.
How often does a face mask need to be disinfected?
When wearing, face masks made of fabric are completely moistened at some point. At the latest when this is the case, you should put on a new mask and wash or disinfect the old one. A moist face mask loses its protective effect. Therefore, two to three changes in the mask per day are recommended.
It is not enough to hang up the mask to dry. This does not kill coronaviruses. Regular washing and disinfection is therefore essential.
If you only have one mask, you can of course not wash and dry it three times a day. However, there are also methods to disinfect the mask that can be implemented much faster.
Disinfect face masks: # 1 wash
The first way to disinfect a fabric face mask is to wash it. Choose a cooking program and wash the mask at least at 60 degrees.
It does not use an eco-program. With this, washing is more environmentally friendly thanks to low temperatures. Even if 60 degrees can be selected in the Eco program, the machine washes only as cleanly as at 60 degrees but does not actually reach 60 degrees.
In the best case, use a heavy-duty detergent that contains bleach. This has a better disinfectant effect than other detergents.
After washing, you should dry the mask in the dryer. Ideally also at the highest temperature that the fabric and dryer allow. If this is not possible, the masks can also be dried in the sun. After that, however, they should be ironed hot.
Disinfect face masks: # 2 iron
If you have to go fast, it can be enough to disinfect the face mask by hot ironing. Cotton can be ironed at the highest level. This corresponds to approximately 165 to 220 degrees.
But then make sure that you really heat the entire mask by ironing. Every seam, all the fabric, every crease, and the tapes have to be disinfected. To do this, these points not only have to be heated strongly but also for a long time.
Disinfect face masks: # 3 bake
If you don’t have time to switch on the washing machine for each mask, you can also disinfect your face masks in the oven. The german virologist Prof. Dr. Christian Drosten recommended baking the masks at 70 to 80 degrees for 30 minutes.
Make sure, however, that the masks are not on top of each other but next to each other on the tray and that the oven is preheated.
Disinfect face masks: # 4 boil
If you don’t want to throw on a washing machine because of a mask, you can also hand wash. At least for limited hand-washing, because of course, you shouldn’t touch the hot water. To do this, heat a pot of hot water on the stove and let the mask boil in it. You can check the temperature with a grill thermometer.
If you want to be on the safe side, iron the mask afterward very thoroughly and very hot.
Caution: disinfect the face mask in the microwave
There is also a tip to disinfect face masks in the microwave. However, caution is required here. This would be possible with a sufficiently high wattage and duration, but many of the fabric masks contain a metal nose piece. Under no circumstances should these be treated in the microwave. In the worst case, the mask (and the microwave) catches fire.
Attention: Don’t forget hygiene rules
Mouth and nose protection primarily serves to curb the spread of the coronavirus. It does not provide adequate protection against infection. It is therefore important that further protective measures are observed. The following also applies:
- Keep at least 1.5 meters away from other people
- Sneezes or coughs in the crook of the arm
- Try not to face yourself
- Wash and disinfect your hands regularly