clean masks

Wondering how to clean your face mask? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recently recommended that people put on a face mask any time you go to the grocery store, pharmacy, or any other place where social distancing is difficult to maintain. Some states have also put in place similar rules and guidelines.

The CDC also announced that select individuals, like children under the age of 2, those who have trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance are not required to put on face masks in public places.

N95 respirators and surgical masks should be reserved for health care workers which means that many people have been flexing their creative muscles and making their own personal face masks.

While making your own face mask is a great idea, there are some key steps to ensure that you and your loved ones stay as safe and healthy as possible during the pandemic. Cleaning your cloth face mask is very important and will limit the spread of germs.

Harvard Health suggests that the coronavirus disease is more likely to live on hard surfaces, like countertops and door handles than soft surfaces. However, the CDC, along with the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, urges that you give cloth face masks the same level of care as your regular laundry, which means you should wash and dry them often.

How to Clean Face Masks

Listed below are the CDC’s general guidelines on how to properly clean most masks:

  • Wash your fabric face masks routinely washed depending on the frequency of use.
  • A washing machine should properly wash a face covering.
  • Individuals should not touch their eyes, nose, and mouth when removing their face covering and, wash hands immediately after removing to prevent further spread of the disease.

While these guidelines are helpful, they don’t necessarily cover all of the different kinds of fabrics that those making face masks at home might be using.  Carolyn Forte, Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, suggests that all face masks should be washed with hot water in the washing machine, and tumble dried on high heat. More delicate, handsewn masks may need to be washed by hand. If so, lather masks with soap and scrub them for at least 20 seconds with warm to hot water before tossing in the dryer. Then iron masks on the cotton or linen setting to kill any remaining germs.

According to the CDC, how often you clean your mask is dependent on how often you use your mask. But it never hurts to be overly cautious and clean your face mask after each use.