Experts weigh in on best masks, best mask practices

NOW: Experts weigh in on best masks, best mask practices


MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Starting Thursday, July 16, face masks will be required in Milwaukee public spaces. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett signed the mask ordinance into effect Tuesday afternoon.

Health experts CBS 58 spoke to said outside of N95 masks, which should be reserved for healthcare workers, and extremely loose bandanna coverings which aren’t as effective, the biggest key to a mask is finding one you’ll actually wear.

“Wearing a mask properly, making sure it covers your nose, down to your chin," Milwaukee Commissioner of Health Jeanette Kowalik said.

But there are degrees of effectiveness.

Marquette College of Nursing Professor Lisa Grabert said the only significant difference between the effectiveness of cloth masks and disposable surgical masks is how it fits over your face.

“If you have a cloth mask that fits very tightly around your nose and around your mouth, that’s going to be a little bit better than the disposable surgical masks that could have some air pockets.”

The CDC recommends washing a cloth mask after each use, but Froedtert Infection Prevention Medical Director Dr. Mary Beth Graham said that’s not realistic for everyone.

“If you’re picking it on and off, it really isn’t practical to wash it after every single use, but at the end of each day, it would be good to wash it off,” Graham said.

Hand or machine washing are both effective.

“You can just go into the bathroom," Grabert said. "Use whatever soap that you have there. Just wash the mask on both sides and let it air dry.

Dr Graham added, unless you are wearing them for extremely brief periods, don’t wear disposable masks for multiple days.

“You should only use them for one day, and then dispose of them, and then get a fresh one for the next day.”

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