Blog
Jan 28
Blog: Choosing and Cleaning Face Masks

Saratoga Hospital, the New York State Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control recommend everyone wear face masks as protection against COVID-19 infection, even if you have received the COVID-19 vaccine. With case counts rising higher than they were last spring, it is more important than ever to keep yourself, your family, and your community safe. 


Here are some recommendations for choosing a mask: 

  • Choose a well-secured cloth or disposable mask that covers your nose and mouth with no side gaps.
  • Make sure it has two or more layers of material. 
  • Try to choose a cloth mask that includes an inside pouch to place a disposable filter. 
  • Do not use gaiters alone. They can be worn as added protection over a cloth or disposable mask.
  • Do not use a face covering with an exhalation valve.
  • A face shield cannot be used instead of a face mask.
  • Do not use N95 respirators, as they remain in short supply and are necessary for health care providers. 

Cloth masks come in various levels of loose or tight weave. The looser the weave, the more viral particles can escape. Filters can provide an added layer of protection. While it is possible to use paper towels, a coffee filter, or an extra layer of tightly woven cotton cloth in a pinch, affordable disposable carbon-based filters are widely available online.  

Mask Care
Not only are you breathing into your mask, but you may have to sneeze or cough into it. Sometimes, especially in weather changes, your nose may run. Always carry a spare mask, just in case, and be sure to clean or dispose of used masks. 

  • Cloth face coverings should be washed daily or after eight hours of use. They can be washed either by hand or machine. Wear only when dry.
  • Disposable face coverings are not washable, but can be reused for up to five days, unless they become damaged, dirty, or wet.
  • Do not put face coverings where others can touch them or where germs trapped in your face covering can touch other surfaces, such as countertops or your kitchen table.
  • Filters are not washable. Some are single-use, and others may be sued two or three times. Follow package instructions.   

Face masks do not offer 100% protection from coronavirus, however, they do offer substantial protection. According to the CDC, the individual benefit of wearing a mask increases when community mask use increases. If you would like to make your own face mask, we have instructions for you right here. Learn more about Saratoga Hospital’s COVID-19 information, policies, and resources here
 


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