A guide to finding mask safety.
A few months ago, the idea of wearing a mask into shops and on public transport was not something that had ever occurred to me. It didn’t seem like a necessity then.
At the beginning of lockdown, masks were hard to come by. Those that had been available were soon out of stock and it wasn’t something that many shops saw as a profitable option to stock.
Now, however, much has changed. Many brands have jumped on the opportunity to design stylish face coverings, making money off something they know everyone will now need.
On ASOS, the fashion giant, face masks now have their own section of “face coverings” under “accessories”. However, in our desire to stand out and have a mask with a “pretty” or “cool” design, we must not forget that these are objects which are meant to provide safety primarily, not just to yourself but people around you.
What is really worrying is the number of reusable masks being sold below medical standard. I recently ordered a face mask from Skinny Dip. It had a lovely rainbow pattern on the front, and I was excited to enter into the zero-waste mask culture.
However, when my mask arrived, I was shocked. Firstly, the material was very very thin. I had no doubt that it would not protect myself nor others from germ droplets. Secondly, I was stunned to find that my lovely masks were not machine washable.
Although they claimed to be so on the box, the label tag on the mask said the opposite. Instead, the label suggested wiping the mask down with a damp cloth. I knew that merely wiping my mask down would not be nearly enough to rid the covering of any germs and the mask would become a bacteria and virus-filled material that I was repeatedly placing back over my mouth and nose, putting myself and others at risk.
John Hopkins medicine stresses the importance of the use of heat when washing your mask. It even advises tumble drying the mask on a high setting after its wash.
What really worried me was that the Skinny Dip masks advertised on ASOS’s website claim to be machine washable, when I know now that is not the case. This makes me reluctant to trust any of the other masks they have on their site. Additionally, all coverings are advertised alongside this message: “ASOS makes no claims about the medical benefits of using this product”.
While some other designs like NEQI make the same claim, they can be machine washed hot which makes all the difference.
I would advise you to look carefully at the mask care section on the boxes of face masks and coverings before making your purchase.
Please see the link below for advice on mask care and storage.