You’re Probably Not Changing the Filter in Your Face Mask Regularly Enough

You’re Probably Not Changing the Filter in Your Face Mask Regularly Enough
Image: PeopleImages/ iStock

Wearing a face mask in public is now a way of life for many people around the world. For those living in Victoria and Greater Sydney, a mask is mandatory for several public indoor settings. As a community, it’s important we take this safety measure seriously and do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

While there’s several different kinds to choose from, many people opt for face masks which have a pocket for a disposable filter layer. These filters can provide extra protection for the wearer by filtering out large particles of air. For these filters to be effective, they need to be changed regularly. So, if you’re looking for the ultimate instructional guide on face mask filters, you’ve come to the right place.

How effective are face masks?

By now we’re well aware that wearing a mask is beneficial to everyone and a growing body of evidence is in favour of them. This meta-analysis of 172 studies was published on the 1st June and found that wearing masks significantly reduces the transmission of viral infections. The study looked at the transmission of COVID-19, SARS and MERS and found the same result consistently. In short, wearing a mask is always a good thing. 

Another thing we know? Many carriers of coronavirus are asymptomatic, meaning they don’t show any symptoms. While there’s evidence to suggest that wearing a mask protects you, there’s actually stronger evidence to suggest it protects everyone else around you. If you’re an unknown carrier and you routinely wear a mask, it dramatically minimises the likelihood of someone else catching the virus from you. Infected people can spread the virus just by talking, so masks are imperative to stopping the spread at this point. 

face mask business law
Image: Getty Images

Why do face masks need filters?

It’s worth noting that slapping on a mask doesn’t automatically make it effective. In fact, there’s a lot of factors you need to consider. From disposable to reusable, store-bought to homemade – there’s a lot of different ways you can approach mask-wearing. If you decide to go down the reusable route (which is far more economical/eco-friendly) you’ll need to invest in filters. 

According to research, adding a filter to face masks could offer extra protection to the wearer – not just those around them. And when it comes to reusable face masks, the more layers the better.

 

How often should filters be changed?

There’s a variety of replaceable filters currently available, from cloth to carbon. For them to work effectively, you need to ensure your mask is fitted snugly around your face with no gaps for air to escape. If worn properly, the combination of your mask and filter can prevent even the most minuscule of particles from getting through.

However, the more you use your filter, the less effective it will become. To ensure you’re always prioritising your safety, you’re advised to change your filter and wash your mask every day, waiting until it’s completely dry before using it again. Just be sure you’re buying masks which have built-in filter pockets for you to replace them.

It’s important to remember that a mask by itself is not enough to protect you from coronavirus. You’ll need to practice social distancing and enforce the 1.5m rule, maintain hand hygiene and stay home as much as possible.

homemade layers cloth face mask
Image: Getty Images

Where to buy replaceable filters:

If you’re interested in buying replacement filters or reusable face masks that come with filters, we’ve rounded up a few here. 

30PCS Activated Carbon Filter Mask Insert ($11.89)

Looking for multiple inserts and quick delivery? You’ve found it. 

50 PCS PM 2.5 Activated Carbon Filter 5 Layer Replaceable Insert ($13.00) 

A 5 layer filter system guarantees maximum protection against dust, pollutants and pollen allergens. PM 2.5 is the size of common carbon particulates – so a PM 2.5 filter will stop these from getting through. 

60PCS PM 2.5 Activated Carbon Filter ($10.00)

Buying in bulk is always an economical choice.  

YIZER Face Mask with Breathing Valve and Activated Carbon Filter ($19.38)

Two face masks fitted with exhalation valves and 10 filters to protect against most pollutants. 

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