Here’s Where You Can Still Find Reusable Face Masks

If you've been searching for reusable face masks due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, we found out which retailers still sell them for you.

There’s no denying that we’re going through strange times. Museums, restaurants, bars, and all other non-essential businesses are closed throughout most of the United States. Most of us have been staying home as much as possible, trying to exercise social distancing to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe—which makes wearing reusable face masks more important than ever. Avoiding these 11 common mistakes people make when using face masks is just as important.

For those of us who are not essential workers, reusable face masks have become necessities. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently advises using a simple cloth mask if you must leave your house to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. In addition, many cities, counties, and states around the United States are mandating people to wear proper face coverings in public places. So if you’ve been searching for reusable face masks due to these circumstances, we did some research and found out which retailers still sell them for you.

How useful are reusable face masks?

Shoshana Ungerleider, MD, an internal medicine physician in San Francisco, admits that masks alone (whether reusable or surgical) are not 100 percent effective in preventing infection. After all, while your nose and mouth are covered, your eyes are not and droplets that get in your eyes can still cause an infection. The best way to prevent infection is to stay at home, Ungerleider says.

However, for the times when you have to go to public places, reusable masks are the best option for protection. According to Ungerleider, as long as the mask you’re using has no visible holes or tears, it’s OK to store and reuse a clean face mask. However, it’s important to make sure the mask is not damaged, doesn’t have stretched out or damaged straps, and still covers your nose and mouth.

“People should not use medical grade or surgical masks, which are desperately needed by medical staff working tirelessly on the frontlines of the pandemic,” Ungerleider emphasizes. If you’ve been wondering, here’s what the N95 stands for in N95 masks.

What should you look for in a reusable mask?

For a mask to be effective, it must be worn regularly. That means it should fit comfortably on your face so you’re not constantly fidgeting with it or readjusting it. It should also fit snugly, but not so tightly that it chafes or causes ‘macne’ (mask acne). The material matters, too. “You want to find a mask made of performance materials, something like you would find in athletic wear,” says Clint Carnell, CEO of The HydraFacial Company, which makes the washable-performance fit FaceLife mask. Ideally, the fabric will have anti-microbial properties, like those made from copper. “Masks made from copper, like the FaceLife mask, can help kill virus particles they might come into contact with,” Carnell says. “For example, if someone lays their mask down on a desk or counter that has the live virus on it, the copper in the mask would kill the virus, unlike a cloth or paper mask.”

What’s the best way to take care of reusable face masks?

Does wearing a reusable face mask in public automatically keep you safe from infection? Not really. “The benefits of reusing a mask depend on whether you can properly care for and sanitize the mask,” says Keane Veran, co-founder and CEO of reusable antimicrobial medical-grade mask manufacturer OURA. “Otherwise, using a reusable mask can be counterintuitive and increase the chances of infection since the virus can remain on the surface for several hours.”

To make sure you’re keeping yourself as safe and healthy as possible, it’s important to wash your face masks daily, ideally after every outside trip. “It is important to isolate your used masks from other personal belongings in order to prevent cross-contamination with items in the house. Until washed, it should be assumed that the exterior of the mask has the virus on it,” says Veran.

Luckily, sanitizing a reusable mask is fairly straightforward. All you have to do is to wash the mask thoroughly with a detergent. “The soap breaks down the fatty capsule of the virus so it can be washed away,” says Veran. “The mask should be gently washed thoroughly each night.”

Where can you find reusable face masks?

Next, find out how you can make your own face mask at home.

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