Mommy Minute: When to replace a cloth mask

Mommy Minute

We are now a year into the pandemic and for many of us, wearing a mask has become second nature. But how do we know when cloth masks are no longer effective?

Dr. Katherine Shedlock is a pedatrician at Penn State Health. She says over time, wearing a cloth mask, and washing it, can stretch it out and even cause tears. She says masks should fit snugly over the nose and under the chin, with no gaps on the sides. If there are gaps and it can no longer hold its shape, that’s a sign the mask should no longer be used.

And although there are no guidelines for how long we should keep a mask, holding it up to a light fixture can be a good test. If you see light pass through it, it’s time to get a new one.

“Absolutely, if you see light passing through there are definitely holes in the fabric that maybe used to be tightly woven and now are open and you do want to replace it if you see that,” Shedlock said.

Dr. Shedlock says we should be washing masks daily, either in the washing machine or hand-washing them. Also, she says if a mask gets wet while you’re wearing it, you should replace it immediately.

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