We’re all trying to do our part in flattening the curve of COVID-19, and part of that has included excessive cleaning. Wiping down countertops, disinfecting cars and carrying hand sanitizer at all times are just a few ways to keep clean. But, ever since the CDC recommended we all wear face masks while in public, we have another item to keep clean: face masks. Wearing a face mask to protect from others who might be sick is one thing, but remembering to wash it so you’re not potentially re-infecting yourself by breathing in whatever was on your mask is another! How do you even wash a face mask, though? We have a few tips!
If you’re using paper face masks, they should be disposed of after each use. However, if you only have one or two of them and you’re trying to keep them as long as possible, make sure you’re storing them in a sanitary location that it won’t touch other items. Leaving a mask isolated somewhere like a paper bag, for at least three to five days before reusing, any germs that were on it should die by the next time you take it out to use, according to Purvi Parikh, M.D., an allergist and immunologist and member of Physicians for Patient Protection in an interview she did with Glamour Magazine.
How do you even wash a face mask, though? We have a few tips:
For cloth masks, you should ideally be cleaning your face mask after each use. If you have multiple, it would be best to use a new one each time while your other ones are being cleaned or dried. Almost all masks can be tossed into the washing machine to be cleaned, or you can hand-wash in the sink if you don’t have access to a washing machine. Be sure to use warm or hot water when cleaning, as warmer temperatures kill bacteria, and that’s the goal here! Most standard laundry detergents are fine to be used when you want to wash a face mask.
After you wash a face mask, think about how to dry it. If your mask has cloth strings, you can throw that in the dryer with your other clothes, but if it has elastic straps it’s best to air dry in a clean location to maintain the integrity of the elastic.