TWO-THIRDS of Brits are not regularly washing their face coverings, a new survey has revealed.
The government has made it compulsory to wear masks while in shops, on public transport and in enclosed areas to help curb the spread of coronavirus.
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After the rule came into effect on July 24, the number of people opting to use face coverings rose from 38 percent to 69 percent.
But a new YouGov survey shows that although more people are using protective masks, only a small fraction of people are following proper procedure when it comes to maintaining the hygiene of their coverings.
By far the most widely used form of facial covering is the washable, reusable face mask.
Almost seven in ten of people use this type of mask.
Yet just a third of this group – or just 32 percent – are following correct procedure and washing their mask after every use.
And even among these people, only 41 percent are washing them at 60 degrees or higher – lower temperatures are not enough to kill viruses like Covid-19.
And worryingly, one in seven of washable, reusable mask wearers have never washed their coverings – meaning they are less effective at halting the spread of the virus.
How to care for your resuable mask
According to UK Government advice, face masks should be washed "regularly." The Government says: "It can go in with other laundry, using your normal detergent."
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) advises people to wash their masks in soap or detergent “at least once a day”.
If you bought your mask from a shop it's wise to check the washing instructions your mask came with. However, people should aim to wash them at 60 degrees Celsius and use detergent to kill the virus.
You should then dry your cloth mask by putting it in the tumble dryer and then using an iron.
Store the face cover in a clean, plastic, resealable bag so it’s fresh and ready for when you next need it.
Repeat use of disposable masks
Around three in ten (31 percent) of mask wearers use single use disposable face masks.
But the results show that most of this group haven’t grasped the “single use” aspect of these masks – with over half (56 percent) wearing disposable coverings more than once.
A further 7 percent have never thrown one away after wearing it – meaning the covering is harbouring bacteria.
How to wear a face mask safely
Before putting your face mask on, wash your hands or use hand sanitiser and repeat after taking it off.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth at all times and store used face coverings in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them.
Do not touch the front of the face covering, or the part of the face covering that has been in contact with your mouth and nose.
Once removed, make sure you clean any surfaces the face covering has touched.
Just 44 percent are throwing their single use disposable face masks in the bin after one wear.
Meanwhile, only 40 percent of men are likely to throw the disposable masks away, compared to 47 percent of female users.
Experts say the higher the temperature you wash your mask, the more likely you are to kill of any signs of Covid-19.
Laundryheap CEO Deyan Dimitrov says: "Our core body temperature runs at an average of 37C, and provides the ideal conditions for bacteria and viruses to thrive.
"This means if you’re looking to fight off the dreaded coronavirus, the much revered 30C wash might not always pack the punch needed.
“Most viruses won’t survive in temperatures over 60C, so you could opt for this setting."
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