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People are wearing dirtier masks than we even thought possible

This survey may gross you out.

People are wearing dirtier masks than we even thought possible
[Photo: rawpixel]
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Is mask re-wearing the everyone-does-it bad hygiene habit of our time? An eye-opening survey commissioned by the textile tech company Livinguard indicates yes. And it’s worse than you thought:

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  • 79% of Americans don’t wash cloth face masks after each use
  • 43% wash them weekly
  • 8% don’t wash them at all
  • 68% reuse one-time-use masks

In other words, all those masks you see out and about are dirty dirty dirty. Moist fabric is a breeding ground for bacteria and can also carry live viruses, so changing into a fresh mask after a few hours is not a bad idea. You know how you change clothes and underwear after exercising? Do that with your face too. Same concept.

For the record, Mayo Clinic guidelines suggest that masks should be washed at least after each day’s use. (The CDC is less specific in its guidelines, suggesting “regularly.”)

Before the pandemic, Livinguard specialized in antimicrobial textiles used in bakeries and feminine hygiene products. The company has since pivoted to COVID-19 protective products. Rather than trying to change consumer habits, it’s built poor American hygiene into its own line of masks, which it says require only weekly washing by hand.

Livinguard’s survey of 1,006 U.S. adults was conducted by a third-party research firm in early October. You can check out the full results here.