Cloth masks should be washed every day (otherwise they won't work). I study

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Carlos Laforet Coll
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A study conducted in Australia confirms the effectiveness of fabric masks but on condition that you wash them in the washing machine every day

A new study conducted in Australia confirms something that we should actually already know: fabric masks work and are effective in limiting coronavirus infections but as long as you wash them every day and strictly in the washing machine (at high temperatures).





During the pandemic, many people have chosen to use washable masks, a decidedly "greener" solution to limit infections, protecting themselves and others. As we know, in fact, disposable masks are very polluting, they help to form yet another mountain of waste and have been abandoned almost everywhere for months now.

Also read: What happens if you wash surgical masks after using them, according to a new French test

New research, conducted by a team from UNSW in Sydney and published in the journal BMJ Open, confirms the effectiveness of cloth masks but suggests washing them daily to reduce the likelihood of contamination and transmission of viruses such as SARS-CoV-2. .

How should you wash them according to the experts? Strictly in the washing machine and at high temperatures.

“Both tissue and surgical masks should be considered 'contaminated' after use. Unlike surgical masks, which are disposed of after use, tissue masks are reused. While it may be tempting to use the same mask for consecutive days or to wash or clean it quickly, our research suggests that this increases the risk of contamination, ”said Professor Raina MacIntyre who led the study.

The researchers analyzed data from a previous randomized controlled trial on the effectiveness of cloth masks in preventing viral infections.

“Given the potential implications for healthcare workers or community members using cloth masks during the pandemic, we did an in-depth look at 2011 data on healthcare workers who washed their masks daily and how they washed them. We found that if the cloth masks were washed in the hospital laundry, they were as effective as a surgical "


It is important to note that, as the study was conducted years ago, the researchers did not test the efficacy of the masks against SARS-CoV-2 but included common respiratory pathogens such as influenza, rhinoviruses and other coronaviruses in their analysis. . Their considerations are therefore based on the washing of the masks carried out by health workers in high-risk hospital wards.


“While some ordinary people wearing a cloth face mask are unlikely to come into contact with the same amount of pathogens as a healthcare professional in a high-risk ward, we still recommend washing the cloth masks daily. COVID-19 is highly infectious and there is still a lot we don't know about it, so it's important that we take every possible precaution to protect ourselves and make sure the masks are effective, ”concluded Dr. MacIntyre.

For some time now, WHO recommends washing the masks in the washing machine with hot water and laundry detergent at 60 °. The results of the new analysis support this recommendation in practice.

"The clear message of this research is that cloth masks work, but once worn they need to be washed well each time before being worn again, otherwise they stop being effective."

Sources: Scimex / Bmj Open

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