After weeks of quarantine and working from home in an effort to flatten the curve of COVID-19, we’ve realized that another important part of protecting from the virus is cleaning. We should be frequently wiping down countertops, disinfecting cars and carrying hand sanitizer at all times to keep clean. The CDC also recommended that we all wear face masks while in public, so now we have another item to keep clean: face masks. Wearing a face mask to protect others is one thing, but remembering to wash it so you’re not potentially re-infecting yourself is another! How should you even be washing your face mask, though? We’ve got you covered!
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, you should try to store them in a sanitary location where it won’t touch other items, 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. 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.
For cloth masks, you should ideally be cleaning your face mask after each use. It’s best to keep multiple, so you can 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 washing your 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.
By Isabella Sorresso