10 Signs You Need to Replace Your Face Mask

5 min read
Surgical Face Mask

If your face mask fits under any of the following categories, you need to replace it ASAP!

10. It Gets Wet

Gets Wet

According to Nursing Times magazine, a wet mask has increased venting, increased resistance to airflow, and is less efficient at filtering bacteria. So, once your mask becomes wet, particularly due to exhaled moisture, it’s a good idea to replace it with a new one. Now, when we say this we’re not saying that you shouldn’t get your mask wet from washing it. In fact, you should wash it on a regular basis. But, you need to let it fully air dry (preferably overnight) before wearing it again.

9. It’s Ripped or Torn

Its Ripped

If your mask is ripped or torn, it won’t provide you, and others around you, adequate protection.

“The whole point of a mask is to provide a physical barrier to keep the virus out, or if you are carrying coronavirus, to keep it in and spare others the exposure,” pediatrician Cara Natterson, MD, author of Decoding Boys: New Science Behind the Subtle Art of Raising Sons, told BestLifeOnline.com. “If you see visible holes, or even just wear-and-tear in your mask, consider that mask done,” Natterson added.

8. It Doesn’t Adequately Cover Your Nose and Mouth

Cover Nose Mouth
Source: Pixabay

If your mask is stretched out or just doesn’t fit your face, it won’t adequately cover your mouth and nose, putting yourself and others around you at risk of contracting COVID-19 and other nasty germs. And, if that’s the case, it’s time to get rid of it and replace it with a new one that actually fits.

Here’s an interesting point, though: just because your mask doesn’t fit quite right doesn’t render it totally useless. If it has a high filter level it could still protect you from bacteria.

7. It’s Made from Only One Layer of Fabric

Single Layer Face Mask
Source: Pixabay

If you’re thinking about getting a single-layer face mask because you feel it’s easier to breathe using one of them, you might want to reconsider your decision. That’s because masks made from only a single layer of fabric do not offer the level of protection you need. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a surgical mask needs to have multiple layers in order to protect you and others from the coronavirus and other pathogens. So, if your mask is made from only a single layer of fabric, trade it in as soon as possible for one that’s made with multiple layers of fabric instead.

6. It’s Become Thinner Over Time

Thin Mask
Source: Pixabay

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that people who wear reusable cloth face coverings regularly wash them in a washing machine.

But, “with repeated laundering, they can become thinner over time, which means an even lower barrier to prevent transmission,” Cassandra M. Pierre, a physician specializing in infectious diseases, and medical director of public health programs at Boston Medical Center, told Allure magazine.

So, if you’ve noticed that your reusable face covering is becoming thinner, you need to get a new one for better protection.

5. You’re a Caregiver to Someone with a Respiratory Illness

Source: Pixabay

If you’ve recently cared for someone in your household or in a professional capacity that has the coronavirus or was suspected to have it, you should have thrown away your disposable mask immediately after using it. If it’s still in your possession, which hopefully it isn’t, get rid of it right now and replace it with a new one.

TIP: If you used a cloth mask while providing care for someone with or suspected of having the coronavirus, wash your mask on the highest appropriate setting and let it dry completely before using it again.

NOTE: The heat from the hot water and the dryer should effectively kill the virus.

4. You Wore it While You Had Coronavirus Symptoms

Coronavirus Symptoms
Source: Pixabay

According to the experts, the coronavirus can only survive a few days on surfaces. Still, if you wore your face mask while you had coronavirus symptoms, or perhaps suspect that you actually had the virus, you should replace your disposable mask ASAP to protect yourself, your loved ones, and those you may pass in your daily travels. If you wore a cloth mask instead of a disposable one, you don’t have to get rid of it. You can just simply toss it in the washing machine and let it dry completely before wearing it out again.

3. You Touched it After Touching a Potentially Contaminated Surface

After Touch

As we all know, “high-touch” surfaces (i.e. doorknobs, phones, toilets, bathroom fixtures, counters, tabletops, etc.) have the potential to be contaminated with the coronavirus and other nasty stuff. And, if you’ve touched any of these potentially contaminated surfaces and then touched any part of your face mask, you should toss your mask in the trash and get a new one. That’s because your mask has now become a contaminated surface, too. This is especially true if you’ve gone out into a crowded area and touched potentially contaminated surfaces. The more you go out, the more likely you are to come in contact with contaminated surfaces, so do yourself a favor and toss those masks into the trash after each outing.

2. You’ve Recently Touched Your Mask After Coughing or Sneezing

Sick Woman
Source: Pixabay

If you’ve recently touched your mask after coughing or sneezing into your hands, you will most definitely need to throw that mask out if it’s a disposable one. That’s because the coronavirus is spread through respiratory secretions, i.e. coughing and sneezing. On the other hand, if you’ve had the chance to wash your hands before touching your mask, then you really don’t have anything to worry about. Just remember to wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds and then dry them completely before touching anything or anyone else.

1. It’s Too Hard to Breathe

Difficulty Breathing

People with respiratory problems have a hard enough time as is trying to breathe. Add to that a mask that makes it even more difficult to breathe, and they’ve got a serious problem on their hands. This is especially true with masks that have an additional layer of filtering. If this is the case for you, then you should switch out the mask you have for one that has a filter that’s sandwiched between the outer layers of the cloth mask.

“We recommend manufactured or DIY masks that include multiple, breathable layers, which fully cover your nose and mouth,” Kenneth Mendez, CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, told NBC News.

If you’re shopping for a filter face mask, here are some to consider:
-Casetify Reusable Cloth Mask
-National Allergy Supply Honeycomb Mask with Carbon Filter
-Vistaprint Face Masks