How to properly wear, store and clean your face mask

As face masks become increasingly more recommended for normal life, many people are left wondering about the proper protocol for their use and reuse.

On Wednesday, Canada's chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam recommended that non-medical masks or face coverings should be worn in areas where it’s not possible to predict whether a two-metre separation is possible.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Abdu Sharkawy told CTV News Channel on Thursday that even the most basic of face masks can be reused if worn and stored properly.

Below are some of Sharkawy’s tips for proper use and storage of a non-surgical face mask to maximize its use.

WEARING A MASK

While placing the mask on your face, Sharkawy said it’s important to first wash your hands thoroughly and to not to touch the cloth while putting it on.  

Sharkawy said you simply grab the elastic ends and place then around your ears. If your mask has a nose clip, you can close it to improve the seal around your face.

If you wear glasses, they should be placed over the mask. Glasses are a good way to tell if the mask has a good seal as the lenses shouldn’t fog up when you breathe.

To take the mask off, Sharkawy suggests grabbing it by each elastic loop.

STORING A MASK

Sharkawy suggests masks are best stored in a sealed plastic bag.

He says the mask should be carefully folded in half so the side that touches your mouth is on the inside. After the mask is placed in the bag, Sharkawy suggests washing your hands thoroughly.

Sharkawy said leaving your face mask in your car or hanging it from your rear-view mirror is “a bad idea.”

“The assumption is that that mask has already been used and if there is any particulate material on there, you’re allowing it to essentially waft through the inside of your vehicle,” he said.

CLEANING MASKS

For non-medical masks, such as home-made face coverings or other non-medical versions, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control suggests the masks should be cleaned routinely in the washing machine.

Sharkawy said these masks can also be cleaned in the sink.

“Certainly if you’re using a cloth mask or something else that can be reused, you can reuse it and you should be washing it regularly with hot water and with some gloves on to protect yourself,” he said.

SIGN UP NOW

Stay up-to-date and in-the-know by subscribing to one of our newsletters