Always take hygiene rules for fabric masks seriously
Regardless of how you feel about it personally: We currently have to come to terms with the obligation to wear a mask in some areas of public life. Cloth masks are more sustainable and therefore better for the environment than disposable masks. However, some rules must be observed when wearing and cleaning, so that the masks do not become a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses and thus pose a health hazard of their own.
You must pay attention to these points
The American Mayo Clinic has compiled the most important wearing and cleaning tips for fabric masks in a contribution. In doing so, it mainly relies on the recommendations of the American health agency (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC for short), but supplements these with its own recommendations.
1. The fabric mask should meet these criteria
First of all, the correct fit of the mask is important. According to the Mayo Clinic, the mask should fit snugly but still comfortably on the sides of the face and be fastened with ribbons or ear loops.
In the best case, the mask should also consist of several layers of fabric and should not restrict your breathing. The fabric mask should be washable at high temperatures and suitable for the tumble dryer without being damaged or changing its shape.
2. Wash the mask regularly
The fabric mask should be washed regularly. How often depends on how often you wear them. The Mayo Clinic recommends washing the mask after every daily use. This means that you can wear the fabric mask several times on the same day, but should wash it at the end of the day and never use it again the next day. Otherwise, germs can multiply.
3. How to wash the mask properly
According to Mayo Clinic, it should be sufficient to wash the fabric mask with detergent in the washing machine or by hand at "hot" water temperature. Unfortunately, the exact temperature is not answered. So if you want to be sure, you should choose a water temperature of at least 60 degrees Celsius.
4. How to remove the mask correctly
The Mayo Clinic makes the following recommendation for the safe removal of the fabric mask: "When removing a fabric mask, be careful not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth and clean your hands immediately after removal."
The Mayo Clinic advises not to store used masks in pockets if you want to use them again later. Instead, one should carefully fold the mask in order to store or transport it in such a way that "the contaminated outside is folded inwards and against itself".
According to Mayo Clinic, it is best to use a clean paper bag for transport, which should only be used once. After touching the mask, you should wash your hands thoroughly or disinfect them. (kh)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Magistra Artium (M.A.) Katja Helbig
- Balzer, Deborah: Tips on how to wear and care for your cloth mask; (published on May 8th, 2020), Mayo Clinic