Nursing Expert: How to take care of face masks

4. 5. 2020

The facemask has become our everyday companion until further notice. We are all currently learning how to live with it. It prevents droplets from entering the air when we are infected, but we do not know about it. What do we need to know? How to put it on properly and take care of it to make it effective. Head of the Department of Nursing, Faculty of Health Studies, PhDr. Katerina Horackova, DiS. gives the basic advice.

"Disposable face masks from pharmacies or medical supplies do not need any special care. It is not washed or disinfected and is simply discarded after each use," says the academic. The situation is different with cloth masks. "The material from which the mask is made must capture as many droplets as possible in which virus particles may be present. But it must also allow you to breathe comfortably. The most suitable material is 100% cotton," explains Kateřina Horáčková. It is essential that the mask can be boiled after each use, i.e. sterilized. "If it cannot be boiled, then wash it to the highest possible temperature and then iron it properly." 

It is important to put on the mask correctly

Whether you have a cloth or disposable mask, it is always important to put it on with clean, properly washed hands. "The mask must cover the mouth and nose. We should not touch it while using it. However, if this happens, we should wash our hands thoroughly again or use an antibacterial gel," Horáčková points out. When removing the used mask, we only do so by holding woven strings or rubber bands and then throw it away or sterilize it and wash our hands properly again. Attention! The veil must never be worn under the nose or on the neck.

The mask must be changed regularly

The functionality of the mask decreases with wearing time. Disposable masks have a functionality (according to the manufacturer) of about 20 minutes. Cotton masks are ideal if double-layered, with the option of inserting a tissue (filter), which is replaced after about two hours or less. It is a good idea to always have a few masks with you and replace it if necessary. "When the mask is damp, if we have a cold, for example, or only when we talk a lot, we should change it regularly," emphasizes Kateřina Horáčková.

The main principles of textile mask care:

  • Put it on with clean, properly washed hands
  • Replace the mask if it is damp
  • Remove it only with woven strings or rubber bands
  • Boil or wash it to the highest possible temperature and iron


TEXT: Zuzana Paulusová/FOTO: Jan Vlasák