Hygienic use of fabric face masks

Fabric face masks should only be used if hygienic use conditions are applied. This video and the below infographic from the WHO summarizes how to safely wear a fabric face mask. Hygienic use includes daily washing or decontamination. Fabric masks should be machine or hand washed in hot soapy water (water should be at least 60 degrees centigrade or as hot as permitted by the fabric) with standard laundry detergent and fully dried before reuse (a machine dryer is preferable). If a machine washer or hot water is not available, the WHO and CDC recommend soaking fabric masks in a dilute chlorine solution (0.1% chlorine, 1 part household bleach [typically 5% chlorine] to 49 parts water) for 1-5 minutes before rinsing and drying or boiling for 1 minute. Note that bleach may discolor some fabrics.

The safe and hygienic use of fabric masks among hygiene promoters is described in this section.

Safe use of surgical masks

If surgical masks are being used outside of healthcare settings then it is important that community members are well informed about how to wear, handle and dispose of surgical masks. For guidance on the safe use of surgical masks, please watch this video or see the below infographic from the WHO. Please see this resource for more information on how to safely dispose of used surgical masks.

Want to learn more about mask use for interrupting the spread of COVID-19?

Editor's note

Author: Jackie Knee
Review: Peter Winch, Julie Watson
Last update: 10.09.2020


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