We know that cloth face masks are the most effective weapon (besides vaccines obviously) in the fight against COVID-19. While vaccines are being rolled out across the country, face masks will be around for some time until real herd immunity is reached. Disposable masks are excellent, but many of us have a collection of reusable fabric masks also. While they are reusable, they’re also like the clothes we wear and need regular cleaning. Let’s look at how you can do that.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can wash your face mask with your regular laundry. Regular laundry detergent works fine, but just make sure you set your washing machine on the cycle indicated on your mask’s label or packaging. Generally speaking the “Gentle Cycle Setting” (or something equivalent) is the desired setting.
Hand washing your face mask is effective also. Wash with a small amount of laundry detergent or soap and clean tap water. Rinsing thoroughly is important to remove any excess detergent or soap.
Thoroughly drying your mask is the next step. Tumble-drying works well and so does air-drying. Laying your mask flat while drying will help maintain its shape. When the face mask is completely dry, store them in a clean dry place away from hands and other items that may be in contact with other people.
A recent European study found that only 1 in 8 people were properly maintaining (read as cleaning) their face masks. The World Health Organization recommends that reusable face masks be washed daily. So, if you’re wearing a mask for a few hours, or a work shift, don’t stick it in your pocket and take it out again the next day. Have a steady rotation of masks for the week. Think of them like underwear. You don’t (or definitely should not) wear underwear for multiple days, nor should you a face mask.
Particles of the virus can linger on surfaces; so frequent (daily) washing of face masks significantly reduces the risk of coming into contact with COVID-19.
So there you have it. Treat your mask like clothes.
- Hand washing or the washing machine, either works.
- Dry them thoroughly.
- Wash them after each use.