Covid-19: How often should masks be washed?

Dubai - UAE doctors explain how to wash masks properly in order to contain the spread of the virus.

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By Nandini Sircar

Published: Wed 17 Mar 2021, 6:04 PM

Last updated: Wed 17 Mar 2021, 6:05 PM

Proper sterilisation of reusable masks is of great importance and masks should not be used more than 30 times, doctors in the UAE have said.


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Regardless of what the masks look like, they need to be cleaned and washed regularly.

Healthcare professionals recommended washing one’s mask after every wear to prevent spreading Covid-19 or other diseases.

Fabric masks can be washed with other laundry and it’s best to use warm or hot water.

Dr Hazem Germanos, specialist internal medicine at Prime Medical Center, Barsha Heights branch, pointed out: “The reusable masks can be used up to 30 times, if there is no tear or damage and if washed properly. After 30 times of use, the mask will lose properties of protection. Additionally, it should be worn and taken off with clean hands. It should be washed daily with warm water and soap — or any detergent — for at least 20 seconds.”

The doctor noted that some use homemade masks or purchase them from the market. "Therefore, one must use correct washing methods to get rid of infections," he said. "Also, once washed, they should be kept in a sterile bag. My advice is: always carry additional masks; in case one gets soiled, the other can be used.”

Doctors explained dust and other airborne particles can easily get settled inside the masks, apart from saliva, particularly, if a person sneezes. Wet masks should, therefore, never be worn, they added.

Dr Anitha Varghese, general practitioner, Aster Jubilee Medical Centre, Bur Dubai, underlined: “I advise the use of disposable masks in the current situation. As disposable surgical masks have layers, it helps to prevent the virus invading the upper respiratory systems like mouth, nose, throat etc. But if people still think that reusable masks are the more affordable option, I recommend that changing them every six hours (same as with disposable masks), washing them daily and drying them in sunlight. In places where the weather is too cold, ironing is necessary.”

Dr Maisaa Al Sulaiman, specialist family medicine, Burjeel Specialty Hospital, Sharjah, pointed out: “With masks becoming an irreplaceable part of our lives, it is mandatory that we use them properly to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus. It is important that we keep reusable masks clean, because the virus can linger on fabric and cloth for a longer time and might increase chances of spreading the infection. It could result in contaminating the surfaces where the mask is kept and might also affect the health of the person wearing it. “

A machine wash at a high temperature with quality detergent is also a good way of killing the virus.

“If hand washing, the reusable face masks should be washed in hot water using soap. Both sides of the mask must be scrubbed well. It is important that we scrub the mask for at least 20 seconds — before rinsing and drying it. Soaking the mask in hot water for at least 10 minutes will also kill the virus,” added Al Sulaiman.

Photo: Alamy
Photo: Alamy

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