Qualified microbiologist and biochemist Antony Arulanandam founded Masksrus.uk out of concern that consumers would be vulnerable to paying too much for poor quality masks:
What to look for when buying a mask
The material used in face masks is really important. Cotton may be comfortable against the skin but good face masks should be constructed of at least two layers, and never be 100% cotton, which is too widely woven to create an effective barrier.
The optimum design for weight, comfort and effectiveness is for the mask to have an outer layer made of a tightly woven polyester, mixed with a little elastane, Lycra or Spandex. This gives some movement and creates a very effective barrier against particles and airborne diseases. The inner layer should be a blended cotton mixed with the same elasticated fibres for comfort. The outer layer is the most important as that’s the one that keeps you safe.
In addition to checking the material, you should also ensure that the mask you are buying has a Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE) score of at least 99%. This is a measure of how effective the mask is as a barrier, and only those that achieve 99% can be worn by doctors in operating theatres. Our own masks achieve 99.4%.
You should also pay attention to the washing instructions. You should buy a mask that can be washed repeatedly at a high temperature as your normal 40 degree wash won’t be able to kill the virus. Soaking a mask in water that is at least 92°C will kill coronavirus.
How to properly wear a mask
It’s very important that your mask is comfortable to wear and fits snugly. When a mask fits poorly, people are far more likely to take it off when speaking to others or after longer periods, and that’s exactly what we need to avoid. It shouldn’t be too loose or too tight, you should be able to breathe easily and there shouldn’t be any significant gaps between the material and your face. The mask should cover both your nose and mouth, and it should run under your chin to ensure that it is protecting you and others.
How to properly take off your face mask
Take your mask off as soon as you get home by unhooking it from your ears, and avoid touching the mouth and nose area of the mask. Wash it immediately.
How often you should change your face mask
If you are using a disposable face mask you should dispose of it carefully after every wear. If you are using a well-constructed, reusable face mask, which is more eco-friendly, you should replace it after one month.
How to wash a cloth face mask, and how often
Buy a mask that can withstand being washed at more than 92°C. Washing at this temperature is the only way to kill the COVID-19 virus. Washing a mask in a washing machine has the potential to infect the rest of the was.
A reusable cloth face mask should be washed after every day of use, as soon as you get home. Leaving face masks lying around at home unwashed risks contaminating other surfaces.