“Both cloth masks and surgical masks should be considered ‘contaminated’ after use,” mentioned Professor Raina MacIntyre, from the University of New South Wales in Australia.
“Unlike surgical masks, which are disposed of after use, cloth masks are re-used. While it can be tempting to use the same mask for multiple days in a row, or to give it a quick hand-wash or wipe-over, our research suggests that this increases the risk of contamination,” Maclintyre mentioned.
The researchers analysed information from a randomised managed trial (RCT) they printed in 2015.
The newest examine, printed within the journal BMJ Open, remains to be the one RCT ever carried out on the efficacy of fabric masks in stopping viral infections, they mentioned.
The researchers did a deep dive into the 2011 information on whether or not the well being employees of their examine washed their masks every day, and if that’s the case, how they washed their masks.
The workforce discovered that if fabric masks had been washed within the hospital laundry, they had been as efficient as a surgical masks.
Given the examine was carried out over 5 years in the past, the researchers didn’t check for SARS-CoV-2.
Instead, they included frequent respiratory pathogens resembling influenza, rhinoviruses and seasonal coronaviruses of their evaluation.
It relies on self-reported washing information and was carried out by well being employees in excessive threat wards in a healthcare setting.
“While someone from the general public wearing a cloth mask is unlikely to come into contact with the same amount of pathogens as healthcare worker in a high risk ward, we would still recommended daily washing of cloth masks in the community,” Maclntyre said.
According to the analysis, handwashing the masks did not provide adequate protection.
Healthcare workers who self-washed their masks by hand had double the risk of infection compared to those who used the hospital laundry, the researchers said.
The majority of people in the RCT handwashed their masks, and this may be why the cloth masks performed poorly in the original trial, they said.
“The WHO recommends machine washing masks with sizzling water at 60 levels Celsius and laundry detergent, and the outcomes of our evaluation help this suggestion,” said Maclntyre.
“The clear message from this analysis is that fabric masks do work — however as soon as a fabric masks has been worn, it must be washed correctly every time earlier than being worn once more, in any other case it stops being efficient,” mentioned Maclntyre.