Great Britain

Are face masks reusable and can I wash one?

PEOPLE in England have been advised to wear "face coverings" as part of the Government's coronavirus strategy.

For several months the UK gave different advice about how important face masks are, compared with other countries who require their citizens to wear them in public.

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Can I reuse a face mask?

Yes for normal face coverings, but washing and reusing N95, surgical and FFP3 ones is still subject to debate so read the manufacturer's guidelines.

Remember, the advice is to avoid these high-grade medical masks anyway, as they're required for healthcare workers.

Can I wash a face mask?

If you wash your mask at over 60C and dry it off properly, then it should be good to go again.

The higher the temperature you wash your masks in, the more likely you are to kill off any signs of Covid-19.

Most viruses won’t survive in temperatures over 60C, so you should opt for this setting for items that are particularly germ-ridden and washed less often, like tea towels, bedding, bath towels, gloves, scarves, and children’s clothing.

Should I be wearing a face mask?

People have been told to wear face coverings in public to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said homemade masks should be worn in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible or where you could come into contact with people from outside of your household.

This includes public transport and some shops.

The Department of Health said after considering the latest scientific advice from Sage, face coverings can help reduce the spread of Covid-19.

They said the evidence shows face coverings can stop you passing coronavirus on to others if you are asymptomatic or have yet to develop symptoms.

Should I be wearing an N95 or FFP3 mask?

Please do not buy an N95 of FFP3 mask as they are most needed by NHS heroes and carers, or those looking after people with coronavirus, and can only be worn once.

However, non-N95 and FFP3 masks can be reused and should not just be thrown away - so are the better option for anyone wanting to cover up while popping to the shops, for instance.

Top advisers in SAGE recommend a face covering that you can make yourself, or use something like a bandana or thick scarf for when you're out and about, saving you money so the NHS can get the top grade PPE.

If you already have a high-grade mask you can re-wash them for going to the shops, though the process will likely degrade them from FFP3/N95 standards.

Invest in a high-grade mask if you believe you or a household member are infected, or extremely vulnerable to the virus (if you have cancer for example), and absolutely have to go out.

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