In a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended the use of face masks when out in public. This is particularly important at times when social distancing is difficult to maintain, like when are in line at the grocery store or waiting for your food order.

Simple activities like talking, sneezing and coughing all transmit microscopic droplets that behave like aerosol and could spread COVID-19 if the person is infected or an asymptomatic carrier.

The objective of wearing a mask is to protect yourself from droplets and prevent the spread of droplets from you, so your mask should completely cover your nose and mouth, be secured with ties or ear loops, and include multiple layers of fabric.

Wearing a mask is one thing, but it is equally important to know how to remove, store, wash, or dispose of your mask to keep yourself and others from getting contaminated.

Since a mask can contain respiratory secretions on both the inside and outside, it’s important to make sure potentially harmful pathogens don’t come into contact with the environment.

How To Dispose Of Your Used surgical mask

When disposing of your used surgical mask, be mindful to take it off your face using the loops and avoid touching the front and inside of the mask. Fold it in half to contain the secretions on the inside, then put it in a plastic bag or roll it up in a tissue before throwing it away.

Avoid tossing a used mask into a trash can without a lid as preliminary data published as a letter on March 17 in the The New England Journal of Medicine based on “10 experimental conditions,” suggested that the COVID-19 virus, SARS-CoV-2, could remain viable on surfaces for up to three days, depending on the surface material.

When you are dropping the used mask into a bin, be sure that you choose one with a closed lid, so pathogens can’t be agitated into the air and theoretically form an aerosol cloud that could infect you.

How Do You Clean A Reusable Cloth Mask

The CDC recommends people routinely wash cloth face coverings in a washing machine after each wear. When you take it off, fold it in half to contain the inner secretions and deposit it into a laundry bin, one ideally with a lid that you can close, if you aren’t able to wash it immediately.

There’s no need to wash cloth masks separately from other clothes if you are washing it in a machine and then running your mask and clothes through a separate dryer, that should effectively kill the virus. The water temperature used for the washing machine cycle should be warm or hot, so be sure to set it on either 40 or 60 degrees.

If you don’t have a washing machine at home or only use a top-loader, hand wash your mask in hot water and laundry detergent.

Be sure to keep an eye on the integrity of the fabric between use because with repeated cycles of laundering, it can become thinner over time, which means it will no longer able to provide you with adequate protection and should be replaced.

How To Dispose Of The N95 Respirator Mask

The N95 masks are meant for single use and the longer you reuse it, the more it may loses its filtration ability, fit, and breathability.

When you throw your N95 away, dispose of it the same way you would a surgical mask by it in wrapping it in a tissue or a plastic bag and putting it in a receptacle, ideally one with a lid.

Just don’t be that person who simply tosses his/her mask onto the ground after they are done with it. It’s selfish and disgusting and highly irresponsible.