If you check your package of disposable face masks, you’ll likely find a date printed somewhere on the label. This is the expiration date — after this date, your masks may no longer protect you from viruses as well as they once did. Christopher Sulmonte from the Johns Hopkins Biocontainment Unit located at the Johns Hopkins University told CNN that the expiration date, “doesn’t mean that it’s broken afterwards. It just means the integrity of the mask isn’t as strong as it was beforehand.”
If you have expired masks, it’s probably time to throw them away. If you want to avoid being wasteful, though, consider layering an expired disposable mask with a cloth mask to increase your protection. As much as you possibly can, remember to use your oldest masks first before they expire instead of reaching for newer ones when you head out the door.
As for cloth face masks, they typically don’t come with a specified expiration date, but that doesn’t mean you should use them indefinitely. Once you notice any holes or thinning fabric, it’s time to replace your go-to cloth mask (per USA Today).