MASKS: THE NECESSARY FASHION ITEM OF 2020
We've come a long way in the first half of 2020 and it been a bumpy ride. There has been much debate and conflicting advice about who should wear masks, when they should wear them and also why they should wear them.
Only months ago the idea of face masks came when we all imagined what travel might look like once this blew over. However, wearing a mask now is something that we need to do when we travel to the supermarket - especially if you are in the UK and Victoria (AU), where masks have become mandatory.
WHY WEAR A MASK NOW?
There's been a little bit of confusion about masks. Initially there was some discussion and direction that we shouldn't be wearing masks. This suggestion came after the onset of the pandemic, which saw masks and other PPE for frontline workers in China, Italy and New York in dramatically short supply.
Given this, there was some concern that asking the general public to wear masks might put further pressure on global and domestic stock levels. Months later, with more knowledge about the virus and with a fair share of the world's factories switching up to make more face marks and hand sanitiser we're able to wear masks when simply stepping out in public to pick up the weekly groceries or to exercise. In short the mask isn't just to protect you, but also to protect others from you if you are infected.
We know that virus can be spread through vapour droplets and that some of us can carry (and spread) the virus without showing symptoms so it is best that we all do our part to reduce the chance we might spread the virus to others.
WILL A MASK PROTECT ME?
In short, a mask may reduce your chances of contracting the virus and help prevent you spreading the virus to others. Social distancing is the best way to rid us of the virus, but we know this is not always possible. The degree to which a mask will help will depend on a plethora of factors including the type of mask, be it a single use surgical mask, an N95 mask or a reusable fabric mask. Most of us will have basic fabric masks (cotton, silk, etc.), which are not only recommended for public use by the Victorian government but are also better for the environment than single use masks.
https://unsplash.com/@adamsky1973 Street art - graffiti with facial mask on the wall during the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Warsaw, Poland
HOW TO HANDLE A REUSABLE FABRIC MASK
Fabric masks are good for a short period of time and reusable masks will need to be washed after every use. If the mask you have been wearing is a little wet or you have worn it for more than 2 hours, then you should take it off, store it a bag (a Scrubba wash bag MINI works well) until you can wash it and replace it with a dry mask. Wet masks only help increase the risk of contamination and spread of the virus. When taking a mask off, try to only touch the elastic straps and be sure to wash or sanitise your hands after taking an old mask off and before putting the new mask on.
HOW TO WASH A REUSABLE FABRIC MASK?
Given the highly infectious nature of the COVID-19 virus and the fact that it can survive for a period of time on different surfaces, used fabric masks should be stored separately from other clothes in a sealable bag until they are washed.
Most fabric mask (particularly those that are 100% cotton) can be washed in the washing machine on a hot cycle. Make sure you use a delicates bag to prevent the elastic ear loops from getting tangled in the machine. However, unless you have enough masks to last a week it might not be economical or practical to run the washing machine every day. If that rules out the washing machine for you, then handwashing the masks in a sink or a bucket with a laundry liquid might be an option. Use hot water (avoid boiling water for the potential of burns) and be sure to clean the sink or bucket after washing. Alternatively, you can handwash the used masks in a Scrubba wash bag or Scrubba wash bag MINI, which has been shown to be twice as effective as handwashing in a sink and on par with a washing machine performance. Click here for full instructions on handwashing reusable masks in a Scrubba wash bag MINI.
As handwashing in a sink, bucket or Scrubba wash bag doesn’t include a spin cycle to partially dry the masks, we suggest laying the wet masks in a Scrubba towel or Allurette towel and rolling the towel to transfer some of the moisture from the masks to the towel. This will make drying the masks much easier.
Handwashing masks each day ensures any infected masks aren’t left for days to fester. Handwashing masks also uses less water and electricity and is typically gentler on the fabrics thereby extending the lifespan of each reusable mask.
HOW TO DRY REUSABLE MASKS.
The best option is to hang fabric masks out to dry. Drying in direct sunlight and fresh air is best, plus it is better for the environment. However, if you are currently enduring winter in the Southern Hemisphere, or are stationed at the North Pole, you might want to hang it in front of a heater or put it in the dryer with your next load. If the mask is 100% cotton it can also be ironed.