MINNEAPOLIS — Wearing a mask helps reduce the spread of COVID-19 but infectious disease experts say how you handle the mask is equally important.
Patty Olinger is the executive director of the Global Biorisk Advisory Council. She said if your mask isn’t stored, cleaned and removed properly it can create other problems.
“If you sneeze in the mask and don’t wash it bacteria could grow and lead to a fungal infection,” Olinger said. “Minimally, you want to wash it daily. Just like clothing close to your body.“
You can wash your cloth face covering with regular laundry.
“The right way to take it off is by the loops. If you have to untie, you untie bottom first and top one last,” she said. “This (outside) could be contaminated and if you sneeze into your mask you have stuff on the inside as well.”
She said the non-surgical disposable face mask will fall apart if washed.
Olinger said there are steps we can take to help protect ourselves.
“Always use hand sanitizer before you take it off or wash hands. When the mask is not in use store it in a plastic bag to prevent contamination,” she said. “Back in 2014, when I was at Emory University we were training doctors when they were in the Ebola unit on how to take their PPE on and off. All of a sudden, they realized one little different step different and I can protect myself.”