Majority of wearers not washing face masks between use
According to a YouGov survey, around 85% of people fail to wash their fabric face masks between every use. The survey also found that of those wearing disposable facemasks, 34% use them for up to three times.
Wearing a face mask is currently the condition of entry to most workplaces. It is recommended that fabric reusable face masks should be washed between each use, and disposable ones thrown away. However, the survey has revealed that many people aren’t doing this.
Used masks can be contaminated with the virus and should not be worn or left out. The World Health Organisation guidelines state that fabric face masks should be washed once a day at the highest temperature recommended by the manufacturer. This does not necessarily have to be done in a washing machine – handwashing with biological detergent is fine.
Dr Tina Joshi, a molecular microbiology lecturer at the University of Plymouth, told the DailyMail that: “I would go further and say you shouldn't be washing it just daily, but after every use. So every time you've been out and come home, remove it immediately, wash it, and wash your hands. Treat it like it's contaminated once you've worn it.” Dr Joshi recommends having at least two masks, so there is always one to wear whilst the other is being washed. Workplaces can check if their employees are frequently washing masks or disposing of them, but it is impossible to know if customers entering business premises are wearing clean face masks.