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September 18, 2020

Face Mask Cleaning – The Basics

As restrictions have lifted and people are venturing out more often than just for basic needs, knowing how and how often to clean your face mask is essential for maintaining your health.

Fabric facemasks hanging on clothesline with blue sky and wispy clouds in backgroundExperts have differing opinions on whether or not viruses can live on clothes. Some believe they can only survive on hard surfaces, like countertops, door handles, and cell phones. Others think the absorbent qualities of fabric make them good places for viruses to settle.

The CDC urges everyone to err on the side of caution and treat facemasks with the same level of care as you would any surface that comes in contact with COVID-19. This means washing them routinely in hot water in a washing machine, drying them in a dryer on high heat, and ironing them on the cotton or linen setting to kill any lingering germs.

More delicate masks can be had washed with soap and scrubbed for at least 20 seconds, air dried, and then pressed with an iron as noted above.

Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, doesn’t recommend using some of the other cleaning methods floating around the web – like putting masks in the microwave. She feels these are not as effective as standard washing and drying would be.

How often you should clean your mask depends on how often you use it and if you feel you may have been in close proximity with someone who has sneezed or coughed.

Diligence and caution are good words to use when dealing with your masks. Better to clean more often than may be needed to keep your family and you safe.