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Can face coverings be reused?

reusable womens face covering

Face coverings have long become part of our daily lives in the fight against COVID-19 across the world – they are considered the “new normal”. Even more now, after the British government has announced that face coverings will become mandatory to wear in shops and supermarkets from 24 July. Failure to comply with these new regulations will result in fines up to £100. So far, face masks have only been compulsory on public transport. But why do we even need them? Many scientists across the world have found that face coverings significantly lower the spread of COVID-19 by catching droplets from breathing, coughing, sneezing and talking. With so many different types of masks on the market, though, we would like to clear up the confusion, if face coverings can actually be reused.

Single-use masks vs. reusable masks

In order to answer this question, we will first have to distinguish the different types of face coverings/ masks. Before the pandemic, most people would instantly associate masks with the surgical type that is typically worn by medical staff. Manufactured professionally of PP, a derivate of plastic, these face coverings are meant for single-use. In general, this means you should not reuse them, as they will not be as effective in preventing the spread of the virus after the first use. This also applies to N95 respirators and FFP3 masks. In addition, these masks are in short supply across the world and are desperately needed by front-line health workers. It is also very important to dispose single-use masks correctly in order to avoid contaminated plastic pollution.
Reusable face coverings, on the contrary, can be any piece of fabric that can be used to cover mouth and nose snugly, such as scarfs, bandanas, old t-shirts or fabric masks. These face coverings may seem a little more expensive in the beginning, but can be reused multiple times, if cared for correctly, and are therefore not only sustainably but also economically a better option.

Care instructions to make face coverings reusable

Your reusable Bags of Ethics™ face covering can be used more than 50 times, if washed and sanitised correctly. By doing this, you will save 50 disposable medical masks, which helps to keep the supply needed for front line workers and protects our planet. In order to keep your mask both hygienic and beautiful you should wash it right after each use or once it is damp. As this is not always possible, you should keep your mask in the protective pouch to avoid any viruses to be transmitted to your essentials. Wash your fabric mask after each use with soap or detergent. We recommend to wash them by hand, as it is better for the environment, they are machine washable, too, though. To make sure they do not shrink, let it air dry afterwards. Et voila, this way you can reuse your face coverings up to 50 times.

For further care instructions or to shop your favourite fabric face covering, visit us on Bags of Ethics™.