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Expert at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital recommends washing cloth masks after each use

Updated: Apr. 21, 2020 at 12:57 PM EDT
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - When traveling or running essential errands during Virginia’s stay-at-home order, experts at the local and federal level recommend wearing a face mask and washing it as often as possible.

Andrea Chapman, an infection preventionist at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, says ideally people should be washing their cloth masks after each use, even if it’s worn for less than an hour.

“Over time the mask gets dirtier, more germs on the mask, and so the higher likelihood that you could accidentally get germs on your hands and then touch your face, touch your mouth and inadvertently, accidentally make yourself sick,” she said.

Depending on the mask’s material, it can either go in the washer or get hand-washed with a gentle cleaner, and then dried.

Chapman also recommends having more than one cloth mask so they can be interchanged between washes.

“Remember that the front of the mask is a contaminated surface,” Chapman said. “So if you touch your mask, your hands are now dirty and contaminated and need to be washed. So that’s why it’s important to wash your mask and not wear it over and over again.”

Chapman also emphasizes the importance of not touching the cloth mask, even with gloves, while out in public, citing risk of potential contamination.

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