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How (and How Often) to Clean Cloth Face Masks

We’re sure you’ll agree that embracing change has been the theme of 2020. One of those changes has come in the form of wearing face coverings in public to protect ourselves and those around us due to COVID-19. It’s probably safe to say that most of us have never had to think about wearing a face mask in public, let alone think about how to preserve and thoroughly sanitize a reusable one.

Even with the promise of a new year on the horizon, face masks will likely be a staple in our lives for the months to come. Our experts at Merry Maids® are here to ensure your cloth face mask is cleaned and sanitized for the health and well-being of everyone.

Essential Tips for Cloth Face Mask Wearers

Before we answer your burning questions, let’s briefly touch on helpful tips for anyone interested in purchasing a cloth face mask.

  • Purchase at least two or more cloth masks for easy rotation.

  • Avoid choosing fabrics for your face masks that make it difficult to breathe.

  • Ensure your mask fits snuggly to your face but is comfortable enough to wear for long periods.

  • Include multiple layers of fabric for extra protection but ensure you have no breathing restrictions.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, wearing fabric masks made from materials such as T-shirts, kitchen towels or scarves and bandanas are good options to protect yourself when you’re in public and unable to socially distance from others.

How Often Should You Wash Your Mask?

When it comes to washing your cloth face masks, the CDC recommends you clean them daily whether you’re handwashing or throwing them into your handy-dandy washing machine. To ensure you’re not without a clean mask on wash days, buy them in bulk. Likewise, if your cloth face mask comes with a filter, the filter should be washed before each use.

Here are some tips to consider when washing your cloth face mask:

  • For machine washing, use non-scented laundry detergent to eliminate unnecessary chemicals from penetrating the fabric. This is especially important if you or a family member is sensitive to perfumes. Non-scented detergents can make wearing your cloth mask more comfortable.

  • For handwashing, use hot, soapy water. Scrub your cloth mask for at least 20 seconds and dry it on high, tumble heat in the dryer.

Handling your cloth face mask with care is just as important as ensuring it stays intact before and after washing. Always remove face coverings with clean hands and avoid touching your skin. This will ensure that you don’t come in contact with germs and transfer them to your clean face mask.

How Do You Dry a Face Mask?

There’s no right or wrong way to dry a cloth face mask unless you count not drying it at all. Always ensure your mask is completely dry before each use; otherwise, it may attract bacteria and become more hindrance than help.

Some important tips when drying your cloth face mask include:

  • Wait at least two days before use when drying your mask in the sun to make sure it’s thoroughly dry.

  • Tumble dry your cloth face mask in the dryer on a high heat setting for at least 1 hour.

  • Store your dry mask in a clean place when it’s not in use. You might consider using a vacuum-sealed bag, a paper bag, or a freezer bag for storage.

  • Always wash your hands before handling a dry cloth face mask.

  • Check that the elastic bands of your mask are completely dry and intact after your dryer cycle.

If you notice your mask looking a little worse for the wear after drying, discard it and grab a new one.

How Do You Sanitize a Face Mask?

Thoroughly sanitizing your face mask plays a critical role in protecting against the spread of germs and ensuring contaminants are eliminated. Believe it or not, washing doesn’t necessarily mean your fabric is sterilized.

To disinfect your mask, follow these four steps:

  1. Soak your face mask for 5 minutes in a tub of cold/tepid water containing 4 teaspoons of household bleach per each quart of water.

  2. After soaking your mask, rinse it thoroughly with hot water.

  3. Allow your mask to air-dry for at least a day or two.

  4. Once dry, store your clean and dry mask in a sanitary location to keep it safe from germs.

Important to note: Because bleach could compromise the integrity of your cloth mask, ensure you’re not overusing it.

Remember, only masks made from fabrics such as cotton or polypropylene should be washed. If you have a surgical mask or N95, avoid washing it as these types of masks are not meant to be reused or washed. While surgical masks are made of a fabric, the fabric isn’t very durable and can have a paper napkin’s equivalent strength.

Looking for more ways to safeguard your home from germs and bacteria? Look into disinfection services from the experts at Merry Maids®. Let us help you reclaim your peace of mind. Request your free service estimate today.