Our best method for preventing the spread of COVID-19 so far has been reusable fabric face masks. They’re also a safer mass-market option than disposable surgical masks, which may lead to microplastic contamination. However, as environmentally friendly as cloth masks are, they lose their effectiveness at trapping the coronavirus after repeated washing and wearing.
Cloth face masks have a range of advantages over disposable masks, including being safer, more compact, and less harmful to the environment. However, even reusable masks will need to be replaced at some point, particularly if they are worn and washed frequently. Here are some clues that the face mask you purchased previously needs to be replaced.
The elastic ear loops display signs of wear first, rather than the mask fabric itself, particularly if the mask has been exposed to high heat in the dryer. If you’ve been wearing your mask for a while and the fit is loosening, particularly if the mask no longer covers your nose and mouth tightly, it’s time to replace the worn-out elastic or retire the mask entirely.
The cloth that comes into contact with your face can expose you. The threads on your mask get more worn-out the more you wear and wash it. Tears and holes are clear indicators that your mask is no longer performing its function, but thinning fabric is more difficult to detect. Keep your cotton mask up to a lamp to see how much coverage it has. Any light should be blocked with a dense, effective fabric. You can also test how much air comes from the other side by blowing through the mask.
Cloth masks show signs of wear and tear similar to the rest of your wardrobe, but unlike an old sock or T-shirt, wearing a worn mask puts yourself and others in danger. So get rid of that old mask and stay safe.
Check out my related post: What’s the difference with between cloth, surgical and N95 masks?