Face masks are a part of life now. With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommending the use of face masks or coverings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, masks are here to stay for quite a while. When it comes to how to wash fabric face masks to stay safe, there are a few things you need to know.
Why Choose Fabric Face Masks?
Before we look at how to wash fabric face masks, let’s consider why you should have one in the first place. COVID-19 is a highly transmissible virus spread from one person to another either by way of air, mostly by droplets expelled from the mouth and nose or by touching a contaminated surface. It is important to note that this virus is highly communicable and able to spread simply from talking or breathing in addition to coughing or sneezing. It is also worth noting that many carriers of the virus are asymptomatic meaning they may not feel sick or show symptoms, but they are still very contagious to others. This is why the CDC recommends face coverings and facemasks for everyone when in a public space.
While many people are wearing disposable masks, there are a few great reasons to choose fabric instead. For starters, fabric masks are reusable, so they are better for the planet. Disposable masks are becoming the new cigarette butt on the ground with people littering them wherever they take them off. There is much waste accumulated by wearing disposable masks. If a person wears a new disposable mask each day when they leave the house for work, plus they need to use a new disposable mask after 4 hours that would be roughly 520 masks thrown out per person each year. This fact makes fabric masks the more economical choice as well since you can reuse them repeatedly after simply washing them.
Cleaning Your Fabric Mask
Now that you know some reasons to choose fabric over a disposable mask, it is time to learn the best way to keep your cloth masks clean. When it comes to how to wash fabric face masks, there are a couple methods available. It is important to wash your fabric face mask after each day of wearing it. You should never wear the mask for several days at a time as it may have contagions on it. Here are a few ways to wash your mask:
Simply wash your face masks in the washer with other like colors. This is the easiest option. You can wash your masks in a lingerie bag to save wear and tear on them and prevent the ear elastics from getting pulled or tangled up with other things in the wash. When using this method, wash your masks on warm with laundry detergent. You can either wash the mask with your clothes or separately if you prefer. It is safe to wash your masks with other clothes of similar color, because laundry detergent will kill COVID-19. Our cotton masks are safe to put in the dryer. Reshape the mask after it is washed, and tumble dry on medium.
If you do not have a washer and dryer at home, handwashing your mask is also an option. Wash your mask with warm water and laundry detergent. Swish the water and laundry detergent thoroughly for several minutes before rinsing it thoroughly with water to remove the detergent. Use a towel to roll the mask in to absorb most of the moisture. Then to dry your mask, if you do not have a dryer, gently reshape your mask and air dry until barely damp, then place your mask over balled up socks and use an iron to complete the drying process. The iron will further sanitize your mask.
Things to Avoid
Do not spray aerosol disinfectants on mask. If you are in a rush and don’t have time to wash your mask, you may think spraying some aerosol disinfectant on it will suffice. It isn’t safe to use spray on disinfectants on a cloth mask since you will breathe in the disinfectant while wearing the mask. This can lead to airway irritation. Instead, use an iron to steam the mask to sterilize it.
Do not microwave masks. With the idea of heat being the best way to kill virus pathogens, many people think they can skip washing and just microwave the germs away. You should never microwave your fabric mask. The cloth mask could catch on fire and you could melt the bendable plastic nose piece on the chambray masks or melt the ear elastics.
Do not rely on UV light sanitation. There has been a lot of talk about using UV rays to sanitize surfaces in a COVID-19 world, but this is not a good idea for cloth masks. For starters, this technique is usually used by trained sanitation professionals in conjunction with other methods. It isn’t as simple as just holding your mask under a UV lamp. Another reason to avoid this method is because masks have seams and the seams are nearly impossible to sanitize with UV light method.
To recap, wash and dry your masks daily after use, just like your underwear. Daily washing also removes make-up and skin bacteria that can lead to outbreaks and skin irritation.