As the government guidance around COVID-19 and staying safe changes, we know that it may leave you with a lot of questions. That’s why we’ve put together this guide on face masks and everything you need to know.
When and where to wear a face mask
As we are all familiar with by now, face coverings are mandatory in a number of indoor settings, including on public transport, in shops and supermarkets, beauty salons, libraries and so on. The general rule of thumb to remember is that if you are in a space in which it is difficult to keep a safe social distance of 1 meter or more from other people, you are advised to wear a face mask. It’s important to note that children under the age of 2, or people who have trouble breathing, are not required to wear a face mask.
What’s the difference between a face covering and a face mask
The UK government have described a ‘face covering’ as a piece of material which can be secured around the face in order to cover the nose and mouth. A face covering is sufficient for the general public, whereas for healthcare workers and other key workers, it is not. For these people, a surgical mask or respirator should be worn as part of the overall PPE. Homemade masks, reusable cloth masks and disposable masks are all classed as a ‘face covering’, which are completely suitable for use, as long as it can tie around your head and fully cover your nose and mouth, of course ensuring you can still breathe without difficulty.
A ‘face mask’ is a term which is used more specifically for healthcare workers and anyone at risk of COVID-19 within their workplace. You may also see some people wearing a face shield, which some workers find more comfortable wearing for long periods of time. These masks are made from a clear type of plastic which is fluid-resistant and can be worn at the same time as a face mask.
How do masks protect us from COVID-19?
Wearing a face mask acts as a barrier which helps stop respiratory droplets, that are expelled when breathing and talking, from travelling into the air and onto other people. Research has found that these respiratory droplets can play a large part in spreading the virus, and that wearing a face mask does reduce the spray, which is why the guidance is now in place.
How to correctly wear a face mask
- Before putting on your face mask, it is important to ensure you have washed your hands and used sanitiser.
- Put the mask on, by holding the straps either side, putting it over your nose and mouth, round your ears and securely under your chin.
- Try to make sure your mask is snug against the sides of your face.
- Ensure you can breathe without difficulty.
When taking the mask off…
- Stretch the ear loops or untie the strings behind your ears.
- Only touch the ear loops of the mask.
- Either dispose of the mask or place the reusable mask in the washing machine.
- Wash/sanitise your hands.
Washing your face mask
With reusable face masks, it is important you wash thoroughly after using. If done properly, you can wash your masks by hand or alternatively, just throw them in the washing machine.
When washing in the washing machine, you can add the mask to your regular washing load. When choosing which setting, it’s important to use a high-quality detergent and the highest temperature appropriate for the fabrics.
When washing by hand you will need to use a suitable bleach. This will need to be between 5.25% – 8.25% sodium hypochlorite. Don’t add any other cleaning products to the bleach and ensure it is in date.
To prepare the solution:
- Mix 5 tablespoons of the bleach per gallon of room temperature water OR mix 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of room temperature water
- Soak the mask for five minutes.
- Discard the solution down a drain and rinse the mask thoroughly with cool water.
- Make sure the mask is completely dry before reusing.
Hopefully this article has helped outline what you need to know about face masks. If you need any help or advice, our team are always on hand to help and we still have a range of mask products from patterned masks to custom printed masks. Thanks for reading and on behalf of all of our team, we hope you stay safe.