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How to clean your mask at home

Whether you are concerned about contamination or want to do your best to avoid masks, cleaning is an important part of caring for a cloth mask.

However, cleaning masks is hardly a standard household skill. Hence, it is important that you get it right. Of course, you can throw your mask in the washing machine and call them for a day, but that’s it Really the way to go? What kind of soap should you use? And how should you dry that thing?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have an entire section on mask cleaning on their website.

Before you even get to the wash, it̵

7;s a good idea to briefly familiarize yourself with how to properly remove your mask. That means that, according to the CDC, you are doing the following:

  • When removing the mask, be careful not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Loosen the masks behind your head or stretch the ear loops.
  • Only grasp your mask by the ear loops or ties.
  • Fold the outer corners together.
  • Put your mask in the washing machine.
  • Wash your hands immediately after removing the mask.

    In other words, treat your mask like the bio-hazard it is.

    From there, cleaning can begin. Here are a few things to keep in mind when cleaning your mask properly so that you can stay safe while also extending the life of your mask.

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    How often should you wash your face mask?

    The CDC recommends that you wash it “regularly”. However, other experts recommend cleaning it after each use.

    Man does laundry and parenting

    Ariel Skelley

    “You want to wear a clean mask every time you step out the door,” says Isabel Valdez, an internal medicine professor at Baylor College of Medicine. “So if you only have a few, wash them after every trip so you always have a fresh one ready.”

    In certain situations, you may need to replace your mask with a new one several times when you are out and about. “If you sneeze frequently because of seasonal allergies, you should change them frequently throughout the day,” says Dr. Suzanne Willard, clinical professor and assistant dean of global health at the Rutgers School of Nursing. The same goes if your mask gets dirty or wet while out and about, she says.

    What type of detergent is best for washing masks?

    The CDC specifically says that you can use “normal detergent” to clean your mask.

    Man wearing gray sweater carrying basket of cleaner clothes at washroom


    However, Willard recommends not using any harsher detergents like bleach – or definitely often.

    “Strong detergents and cleaning agents like bleach can break the threads,” she says. “While you could use a bleach water, you know your mask integrity doesn’t last.”

    “I would toss them with the rest of the laundry,” Willard says. You can even use a lingerie bag to reduce wear and tear on your mask in the washing machine, she says.

    If your mask includes a disposable filter, it should be removed before washing. “The filters are often paper,” and if you put that through the wash, “it gets destroyed,” says Willard. But if it’s a reusable filter that’s made out of cloth, you should be okay to wash it, she says.

    Can you hand wash masks?

    For sure.

    Daily cleaning of face masks in the event of a pandemic

    Catherine McQueen

    The CDC provides some pretty specific instructions for cleaning your mask by hand:

    • Use bleach with 5.25 to 8.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. (Don’t use bleach if the percentage isn’t in this range or isn’t stated, according to the CDC.)
      • Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
        • 5 tablespoons of bleach per gallon of room temperature or water
        • 4 teaspoons per liter of room temperature water
      • Soak the mask in the bleach solution for five minutes.
      • Pour the bleach solution down the drain and rinse the mask thoroughly with cold water or room temperature water.

        Note, however, that regular use of bleach on your mask will definitely cause your mask to wear out faster than if you’ve just used regular detergent.

        What’s the best way to dry a washed face mask?

        When drying your mask in your tumble dryer, the CDC recommends using the highest heat setting and leaving the mask there until completely dry.

        Covid 19 mask drying


        If you plan to air dry your mask, the CDC recommends laying it flat and exposing the mask to direct sunlight whenever possible.

        Can you Really Are you using an Instant Pot to clean a fabric-free mask?

        In random news, a new study was published in the journal Letter on environmental science and technologyIt has been found that the dry heat of an electric range (like an instant pot) can disinfect face masks. The researchers on this particular study cleaned N95 masks during a 50-minute cycle, but the study co-author, Thanh Nguyen, Ph.D., professor of civil engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, says this method was Fabric face masks will likely work too. However, she points out that “most fabric face masks can be machine washed with soap and water”.

        However you wash your mask, just do it regularly. This is an essential part of containing the spread of COVID-19.

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