Care and Feeding of a Mask

You know how when you lose one sense, like your sight, other senses become sharper? I feel like the opposite happens to me when I put on a mask. I can’t see well, can’t smell, obviously can’t taste, feel or even walk properly. I feel awkward, clumsy, out of sorts, barely able to function or put one foot in front of the other. Also, I’ve noticed masks smell like whatever you’ve just eaten and having recently gone on the Key West Food Company Seafood Lover’s Tour, I can attest that fish dip, pico de Gallo and Mahi tacos are not scents you want to be smelling in your mask, especially in 90 degree heat. A breath mint is de rigeur these days while mask-wearing.

Wearing lipstick with a mask on is irrelevant, and actually gets smudged inside your mask, so I’ve taken to lip stains, which luckily don’t stain your mask, only your lips. Earrings are problematic, especially hoops, while wearing a mask. When yanking off your mask, you could possibly snag a hoop and rip out a chunk of your earlobe. And masks, according to the experts, should be washed daily, otherwise we risk infection and possible “maskne”.

To remove masks, take them off by their loops around your ears, as you should assume the front of the mask is contaminated. If you are eating at a restaurant, or sitting down elsewhere sans mask, bring a small paper bag to place your mask in. Do not put it straight into your purse or worse ( I am guilty of this) on the germ-laden table. To put back on, again use the loops to re-mask.

To wash, you can throw your mask in with the rest of your laundry, washing at the highest possible heat. Dry also at the highest possible setting. If you choose to hand wash, add 4 teaspoons of bleach per 1 quart of water (or 5 Tablespoons per gallon) and let it soak for 5 minutes. Either place mask in dryer at high heat to dry or if you air dry, try to place the mask in direct sunlight. This advise was from the CDC.

Can you re-wear disposable blue surgical masks? Yes, if they were removed and stored properly. If it’s stained, throw it out. A paper bag provides a sanitary receptacle that breathes to store it in, as opposed to a plastic bag, which can breed whatever it is we’re not supposed to be breeding. While fishing buffs are easier than masks, as they can slip around your neck and can be pulled up when needed, they don’t provide as much protection as cloth masks. Basically, if you can blow a match out through your mask, it isn’t providing enough protection.

I have about six masks that I keep in rotation, depending on what I’m wearing and what’s clean. I tested them out with the match-blowing rule; three passed muster and three didn’t. If you add the extra layer in the double layered mask (mine has a slot where it goes), even better. Coffee filters cut to size work for this, but remove and dispose of the filter after wearing the mask out in public.

Eenny Meeny Miney Moe, put a mask to block the flow.

Despite the hassle of masks, it is one of the most effective tools we can use right now to keep ourselves, and others, safe. I now wear mine proudly. When maskless people look at me like I’m a weirdo, I go all Robert De Niro on them- “You lookin’ at me? You lookin’ at me?” You should be lookin’ at yourself! This is, of course, all communicated with my eyes, so I’m not sure people are getting my message.

Mask shaming. While I was eating outside at a restaurant on Duval street this week, a family of a Mom, Dad and three teenage kids walked by. I heard the Dad say loudly “You’re not really going to wear that, are you?” I turned around, expecting to see the daughter wearing a crop top, fish net stockings and stilettos, but no, she was actually donning a blue surgical mask, amid the rest of her non-mask wearing family. Way to go Dad! Mask shaming your daughter in the middle of Duval Street for being the only one in her family to make an intelligent, informed decision.

Although some people seem to equate not wearing a mask with exercising their constitutional rights and expressing their freedom as an American, wearing a mask is actually a way of showing compassion and caring for your fellow man. Just #wearthedamnmask! Or Mask up! As they said in Key West. Also, what they said in Key West: “We’re a small island, with a small hospital, so please be kind and wear your mask.” It’s the right thing to do.

Up Next: Hillstone’s Thai Steak & Noodle Salad, Mango Mania, Items to Always Have In Your Freezer.

Published by gleeguilford

Born and raised in Miami, the daughter of a pilot and stay-at-home Mom, I love food in all forms. My great grandfather opened the first Italian restaurant in Miami in the 20's, The Boathouse on the Miami river. I love exploring my heritage and linking food and recipes to personal stories. I've been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love and wrote restaurant reviews and news as the Miami Dining Examiner for three years. I love exploring Miami's latest hot spots, hole in the walls and institutions. I'm always looking for innovative ways to use the plethora of tropical fruits and vegetables South Florida offers, especially from my own garden.

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