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Are face masks reusable and can I wash one?

FROM Monday June 15 face coverings will become mandatory on public transport in England.

The new rules will apply on trains, tubes, buses, ferries and planes but people will not have to wear them inside railway stations or bus terminals.

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 Face coverings will become mandatory on public transport in England
Face coverings will become mandatory on public transport in EnglandCredit: PA:Press Association

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “I can announce that as of Monday 15 June, face coverings will become mandatory on public transport.

“The evidence suggests that wearing a face masks offers some, limited protection.

“You can be refused travel if you don’t comply and you could be fined.

“It’s a condition of travel. You cannot travel if you are not wearing a face covering.”

Can I reuse a face mask?

Yes for normal face coverings, but washing and reusing N95, surgical and FFP3 ones is still subject to debate so read the manufacturer's guidelines.

Remember, the advice is to avoid these high-grade medical masks anyway, as they're required for healthcare workers.

Can I wash a face mask?

If you wash your mask at over 60C and dry it off properly, then it should be good to go again.

The higher the temperature you wash your masks in, the more likely you are to kill off any signs of Covid-19.

Most viruses won’t survive in temperatures over 60C, so you should opt for this setting for items that are particularly germ-ridden and washed less often, like tea towels, bedding, bath towels, gloves, scarves, and children’s clothing.

Should I be wearing an N95 or FFP3 mask?

Please do not buy an N95 of FFP3 mask as they are most needed by NHS heroes and carers, or those looking after people with coronavirus, and can only be worn once.

However, non-N95 and FFP3 masks can be reused and should not just be thrown away - so are the better option for anyone wanting to cover up while popping to the shops, for instance.

Top grade masks come with a whole load of other issues that could actually put you at more risk than a normal covering if used improperly. They are also really uncomfortable.

Top advisers in SAGE recommend a face covering that you can make yourself, or use something like a bandana or thick scarf for when you're out and about, saving you money so the NHS can get the top grade PPE.

If you already have a high-grade mask you can re-wash them for going to the shops, though the process will likely degrade them from FFP3/N95 standards.

Invest in a high-grade mask if you believe you or a household member are infected, or extremely vulnerable to the virus (if you have cancer for example), and absolutely have to go out.

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