Average person goes nine days without washing their face mask

Face masks are just a fact of life at the moment. Now, when we leave the house we check our pockets like this: Keys? Purse? Face mask?

We need face masks to help keep us healthy and to keep other people safe – particularly in spaces where it is hard to social distance. But are we actually being hygienic with our masks?

Experts believe that misusing a mask could put you in as much danger as not using one at all. If masks are not changed or cleaned frequently, they can become their own source of contamination.

But, a new study has found that a worrying number of people are being pretty gross with their mask hygiene.

On average, the longest people report going without washing their reusable mask is nine days, researchers found. And almost 11% of reusable mask wearers admitted to having gone over two weeks without washing their mask.

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The survey of more than 1,000 people, conducted by Signs.com, found that almost 25% of mask owners admit to having shared a face mask, despite health expert advice against sharing face masks.

40.8% of people admit to trying to wash a disposable mask, and 44.2% of people admit to wearing a disposable mask multiple times.

Washing a disposable mask is not recommended, as it can damage the fibers. If you do reuse a disposable mask, the best strategy is to isolate it for a week by keeping it in a breathable container like a paper bag.

Washing a reusable mask is a bit more straightforward: Simply throw it in a washing machine with the other laundry. This is what the majority of reusable mask wearers do, although about 42% said they wash their masks by hand.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines on how to properly remove and wash face masks. Among these guidelines is a call to wash your hands after touching a face mask, but over one-third of mask wearers aren’t heeding that warning.

Mask owners are more likely to wash their hands before taking a face mask off (43.75%) than before putting one on (35%).

More than two-thirds of mask owners wash their face after wearing a face mask at least some of the time. Nearly 33% reported washing their face every time after they wear a mask – a practice that could be an attempt to reduce the impact of ‘maskne.’

Almost two-thirds of mask wearers said they primarily opt for reusable masks, with millennials being the most likely to choose reusable masks over disposable ones.

Experts would approve of this, as reusable masks provide better protective barriers than disposable masks. Reusable masks are also more environmentally friendly.

So remembering to wear your face mask isn’t enough – you also need to make sure you’re using it properly. And not being gross.

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