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How to disinfect face masks

disinfect face masks

What is the best way to disinfect face masks against viruses? Our guide outlines several ways you can do this at home and keep the masks sanitised.

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In order to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, many citizens are now using self-sewn mouth-nose masks. Read here how to disinfect the face masks effectively.

While the mouth-nose masks do not protect against infection , but rather serve one to prevent infection of others. However, due to the long incubation period of Covid-19 and the ability to infect others, even though you don’t feel any symptoms yourself, wearing makeshift masks can help curb the spread of the virus.

So that the makeshift masks actually work and do not transform themselves into a playground for germs, it is necessary to disinfect them after each wear . Therefore, it makes sense to make several face masks for each member of your household , so that a mouth-nose protection is always at hand.

Best ways to disinfect face masks

You do not need a disinfectant to disinfect your face masks . Instead, use heat to kill germs and viruses. There are various options for disinfecting the face masks, which are of different complexity.Important: The methods presented to disinfect face masks only apply to reusable mouth-nose masks made of fabric. FFP2 and FFP3 masks have a built-in filter that can be damaged if you disinfect the masks yourself.

Disinfect face masks in the oven

You can easily disinfect the self-made makeshift masks in the oven. To do this, place one or more masks side by side on the grill and disinfect at 70 degrees for at least 30 minutes in the oven. Make sure that the masks are on a clean surface and do not overlap.

Disinfect face masks in the microwave

The microwave disinfection method is only suitable for masks without metal components and thus excludes purchased or self- sewn masks with integrated wires . If these masks are disinfected in the microwave, sparking and lightning may occur. You can disinfect pure fabric masks in the microwave, whereby you should make sure that the duration and wattage are sufficient. Overall, however, disinfecting masks in the microwave is the most unsafe method.

Disinfect face masks in the washing machine

The most reliable method of disinfection is the tried and tested hot wash. Wash the masks in the washing machine at a temperature of at least 60 degrees using a detergent containing bleach .

You can also simply wash individual face masks in a saucepan with enough water: the mask should boil in the water for about five minutes . Then simply let the mask dry and iron the dried mask at the highest level.

Disinfect face masks with an iron

With temperatures up to 165 degrees, irons also become hot enough to disinfect the surface of the mouth-nose masks. To do this, iron the face mask from both sides for several minutes and pay particular attention to ironing at the hem, in folds and under overlapping strips of fabric. This disinfection method is particularly effective in combination with the hot wash.

Important: If you find damage to a mouth-nose mask, such as holes or tears, mend the mask before reusing it. The effectiveness of self-made makeshift masks also depends on the germs catching in several layers of a tightly woven fabric.

Even with correct disinfection, the makeshift masks can never be as germ-free as in a laboratory environment . Scientists also point out that mouth-nose masks offer only limited protection against infection and rather serve to protect fellow human beings . To increase the protective effect, it is also necessary to take further protective measures :

  • Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds
  • Keep at least 1.5 meters away from other people
  • Cough and sneeze in the crook of your arm (inner elbow)

When removing the makeshift mask, be careful not to touch the mouth area – most germs collect here. Wash your hands thoroughly after removing a used mask and before putting on a clean mask.

Author: Genevieve Dumas is a food, fashion, health and beauty writer from New York, who has worked for a range of major magazines.