How Long Do Disposable Masks Last?

disposable mask

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Every day, new information emerges about the COVID-19 pandemic and how best to protect against it. Among the many preventive recommendations lies the use of face mask. 

Although there are several types of face masks, including 3M N95 respirators and homemade cloth face masks, most people choose to go for disposable surgical face masks. 

In this article, we would explore how long these types of masks last for, as well as how to care for your mask during a global pandemic.

Do face masks really work?

Yes, they do. There have been multiple experiments that attest to the fact that face masks really do work and help flatten the curve in this medical crisis. 

As a PPE, a face mask helps to prevent the evaporation of respiratory droplets- which is a means of transmission of a virus. 

When should you throw away your disposable face mask?

Generally, face masks should be worn whenever you are in a public place. If you wear a face mask throughout the day, you shouldn't repeat it the next day. Instead, dispose it. Disposable face masks are to be worn only once. Instead of re-using a mask, it is better to leave it on for an extended period e.g. throughout the day.

The same rule applies to when you are in contact with someone diagnosed with or showing symptoms of COVID-19. Since the face mask may contain droplets from your contact, you need to dispose it off before entering a sanitized area. 

How should you dispose your face mask?

Now you know when you should throw your face mask into the garbage, you must understand “how” to remove it. Before removing it, make sure you have a new one at arms-length. If you don’t check an online store or physical shop for a new one. 

Follow these steps to remove your mask:

  • Before touching the mask, clean your hands with soap and water. If you have the virus on your hands, peradventure, washing your hands eliminates the risk of a transfer.
  • Do not touch the front of the mask. At all costs, avoid doing so- it is contaminated! Only touch the ear loops/ ties/band. 
  • If your face mask has ear loops, hold both of the ear loops and gently lift and remove the mask. If your mask is with ties, untie the bottom bow first then untie the top bow. Then, pull the mask away as the ties are loosened. Peradventure, if your face mask has bands, lift the bottom strap over your head first- followed by the top strap
  • Again, remember not to touch the front of the mask. 
  • Throw the mask in the trash. 
  • Clean your hands with a sanitizer or soap and water. 

In the United States, all face masks for sale are NIOSH certified. Ensure you buy such. 

Conclusion

Disposable face masks are to be worn once; especially if you have been in a public space, or if you’ve had contact with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19. It is better to use a disposable mask over an extended period, instead of re-using it.  By doing this, you can effectively protect your kids, friends, and family from the Coronavirus.