It is now mandatory to wear a face mask or covering on public transport and in shops, takeaways and supermarkets to stop coronavirus spreading as lockdown restrictions ease.
The government has recommended people make their own masks, or buy cloth masks online. The British public have been encouraged not to buy surgical masks, which frontline health workers need to protect themselves while treating Covid-19 patients.
Cloth masks are not as protective as medical-grade masks, but they are still effective.
Jeremy Howard, a data scientist at the Univeristy of San Francisco said it’s vital to wear a mask because they block the vast majority of speech droplets that transmit the virus.
“Nearly half of infections come from people that don’t know they’re sick,” he told the Standard.
It is important to wash cloth face masks regularly to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
How to clean your face mask
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends washing masks with soap or detergent “at least once a day”.
The UK government says face masks should be washed “regularly” with normal detergent.
“Wash your mask just like you would wash a handkerchief – pop it in the wash at the end of the day,” Dr Howard said.
“We don’t know for sure that it is needed, but it’s a sensible precaution.
Dr Howard said as the virus lipid layer is destroyed by soap, the temperature of the wash is not that important.
However, it is best to wash at 60C or above, which will give the virus the least chance of surviving.
When you put your face mask on again, was your hands or use hand sanitiser. You should also wash your hands after taking the mask off.
While wearing the face mask, you should avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth, at all times. Used face masks should be stored in a plastic bag until they are washed.