Ensure You Always Have a Clean Mask With This System

Photo: Maridav, Shutterstock
Photo: Maridav, Shutterstock

I live in New York City, where, I am pleased to report, the vast majority of people wear masks when out and about. This very likely has something to do with why we’ve managed to flatten the COVID-19 curve and keep it flat — squashing our daily infection rate from a terrifying high of 71 per cent in the early days of the pandemic to around 1 per cent as of early June, and keeping it there. The downside of this is that I’ve started seeing a lot of discarded disposable masks littering our streets and beaches, which I find absolutely disgusting — and that’s saying something, considering the usual state of NYC streets. I wish more people would choose reusable masks instead. Not only are they better for the environment, but if you have a system in place to manage your clean mask inventory, they’re just as convenient.

A few months ago I explained how we redeployed the clippy hangers we originally bought to dry cloth diaper covers to hang face masks overnight. In the time since — during which time we’ve started going outside a lot more and wearing masks just as stringently — we’ve augmented our strategy with the addition of a system that ensures there’s always an ample supply of masks ready whenever we need to head out.

It’s pretty simple: We keep two small baskets on the bookcase in our foyer. One of them is for clean masks. The other is for dirty masks. Every time we go out, we grab a clean mask from the former. As soon as we get back, we remove our masks and deposit them directly in the latter. This keeps any germs they might be harbouring contained (even though surface transmission seems a less likely vector of infection, it’s still important to keep your hands clean) until I can take them to the bathroom at the end of the day to wash them in the sink and hang them up to dry.

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Since the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic — even back in January and February before things really started to get bad in the U.S. — there has been some mixed messaging when it comes to wearing masks. At Lifehacker, we’ve been fortunate that our senior health editor, Beth Skwarecki,...

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I realise that this isn’t exactly rocket science, but with four people in our family, we’re churning through a minimum of 28 masks per week, assuming we only go out once a day. Before we started using the baskets, they’d wind up all over the place — tossed on the floor by the kids, left on the dining table or mixed in with the laundry. Now, I always know where all of them are, and we are never caught maskless.

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