All About Face Masks

With the emergence of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), a new craze has swept the nation: face masks. The CDC recently recommended that everyone wear a face mask in public, leading to increased interest in masks and tutorials on how to make them. You probably have lots of questions about what mask you need and how to make and maintain your own mask. Let’s go into the different types of face masks:

What is PPE?

PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment. These refer to any attire meant to protect the wearer from hazards such as dust, vapors, particles and chemicals.

What are the different types of face masks?

  • A particulate respirator protects you from airborne particles. N95, R95, and P95 masks are all respirators. The letter in each of these names represents the type of particle it filters. The N stands for non-oil-based particles, while the R and P designate oil-based particles.
  • The number is the efficiency rating of the filter. For example, a P100 or N100 respirator filter 99.7 percent of matter larger than .3 microns. You may also see K95 respirators being sold. These are the Asian market equivalent for N95 respirators and are FDA approved as an N95 alternative.
  • Surgical masks, also known as medical masks, are worn by healthcare professionals working in situations where germs can spread easily. They are typically blue, rectangular shaped, and made from a pleated, paper-like material. Surgical masks are made to block large droplets and splatters. Due to the current shortage, surgical masks should be reserved for healthcare workers.
  • The CDC recommends that non-healthcare workers wear cloth masks while in public to prevent spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). With new findings that asymptomatic people can spread the virus, it is important that everyone wear a mask in public whether they exhibit symptoms or not in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

How to wear a mask

When putting on a cloth face mask:

  • Make sure that it comes up to the bridge of the nose and down under the chin.
  • Make sure the sides go at least halfway to your ears.
  • ie the mask snug around your face.
  • It should fit comfortably, with no gaps on the sides.
  • When wearing your mask, keep your nose and mouth covered at all times. Do not put the mask under the chin or leave your chin exposed.

If you are wearing a particulate respirator, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires annual fit testing before you wear it in order to make sure it will work properly. The respirator should fit over your nose and under your chin. It is also important to conduct a seal test every time you wear a respirator. Your mask should come with instructions on how to conduct your own fit test in the situation that you need it before it can be officially tested.

How to clean your mask

Medical face masks are designed for one-time use, but due to shortages, experts are working on the best ways to disinfect masks for re-use. Using heat at 150 degrees Fahrenheit is a good way to disinfect your mask. Do not put your mask in the oven because it can melt the plastic fibers. It is suggested for medical professionals who have multiple masks to rotate their masks over several days to give the virus time to decay.

Most respirators should be disposed of after one use, but some are reusable. To clean your reusable respirator:

  • Take out any filters or cartridges.
  • Wash the facepiece in warm water with soap.
  • Let your respirator dry in a non-contaminated area.
  • Once all the parts are dry, reassemble your respirator and store it in a cool, dry place.

To clean a cloth mask, all you can put it in the washing machine, or you can wash it in the sink using regular laundry soap. To dry them, you can use your dryer or air dry. They can even be ironed. Avoid using chemicals like bleach and hydrogen peroxide, which damage the fabric. Wash your mask routinely.

If you cannot create your own face mask, HomElectrical offers a selection of comfortable cloth face masks for purchase at competitive retail prices!

Emily Klump
Emily Klump

Emily Klump is a recent graduate of Kennesaw State University, where she received her degree in English. As a content writer at HomElectrical, she uses her passions for reading, writing, and the Earth to share green products and lifestyle tips with the world. Emily occupies her spare time with a wide range of activities that vary from reading fantasy novels to camping under the stars.

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