You can buy masks in grocery stores or make them yourself, but which masks protect you the most from the novel coronavirus?
Keep in mind no mask offers full protection and they should not be viewed as a replacement for physical distancing. But when picking out a mask, experts say to look at three things: fabric, fit and breathability.
It’s best to hold the mask up to the light. If you can see the outline of individual fibers, it’s not a great filter. A tightly weaved mask with 100% cotton is a better option.
Also, it should fit tight to the face. Masks with pleats or folds are also a good choice because you have more air flowing through the fabric instead of leaking out of gaps on the side of the mask. Flat front masks are less effective.
Avoid masks with exhalation valves. While they make it easier to breathe, they release unfiltered air, so they don’t protect others.
Cloth masks should be washed daily with soap or detergent and hot water. Make sure it’s completely dry before reusing because damp masks make it harder to breathe and can grow bacteria.
The surgical masks that you can now buy in the grocery or drug stores are disposable. Experts say it’s best to not directly touch those mask and to rotate them out.
You could take one of these masks and place them in a paper or plastic bag that allows for some ventilation and let them sit for a couple of days.
It’s advised to have about three or four of these so you can use a clean one while the other sits.
If it’s visibly dirty, throw it out. It’s not advised to spray a mask with a disinfectant because you end up breathing in those chemicals.