Since the most-hated virus (and its variants) made an uninvited entry into our world, masks have become one of the must-have items before stepping out of the house, accompanying keys and wallet.

Wearing masks
Source: UNICEF

But if you're anything like me who hangs the mask in the wardrobe and loses track of the last time you changed it, then you've arrived at the right place.

Although wearing N95, KN95, or KF94 masks provides additional protection, you must be aware of when to discard them. N95 respirators or face masks can be worn for 3 to 4 hours at a time, according to manufacturer guidelines.

N95
Source: BBC

Regardless of whether you wear a N95 or KN95 face mask, the FDA recommends that if your respirator becomes damaged or dirty, or if breathing becomes difficult, you should remove it, properly dispose of it, and replace it with a new one.

After you've worn your mask well, how do you keep it safe for the next use? There are various methods for properly storing it.

Store masks in a brown paper bag while they decontaminate. The CDC recommends that masks be removed without touching the interior. One must store all the bags containing masks and reuse it only after five days.

Storing masks
Source: CDC

Moving forward to our most favourite cloth mask that is more often than not coordinated with our outfits. 

As an additional, low-cost public health measure, a cloth face mask manufactured from ordinary household items or produced at home from common materials can be used.

Source: USA Today

Apart from being excited to include it in our fashion statement, we must also ensure that the cloth is thoroughly cleaned in boiling water containing 2% salt for 5 minutes and thoroughly dried before sewing the mask.

Source: The Conversation

Depending on how often they are used, they should be washed with soap and warm water on a routine basis. A washing machine should be enough to clean a face mask adequately. The mask must be dried for at least 5 hours in the sun prior to its next use.

Drying masks
Source: AP News

Coming back to the N95 masks, since they cannot be sterilised, there have been concerns about the environmental impact of discarding them. The majority of masks are non-recyclable and should be securely disposed of in a bag so no one else comes into touch with them.

Disposal of masks
Source: The Economic Times

How many of these measures have you been already taking?