7 recommendations to keeping your COVID-19 cloth masks clean
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The CDC says that proper cloth masks should be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape. But do you know how to keep them clean?
Here are seven recommendations:
1. Be sure to have several cloth masks on hand so a clean one is always available.
2. The CDC says masks should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use. Good rule of thumb, wash after going anywhere where social distancing can’t be maintained (grocery store, pharmacy).
3. The CDC also says that a washing machine should suffice in properly washing a face covering.
4. Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, suggests that in addition to washing masks in hot water, they should also be tumble dried in high heat.
5. Don’t have a washing machine? Lather masks with soap and scrub them for at least 20 seconds with warm to hot water, according to Good Housekeeping. Rachel Noble, a microbiologist and professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says you can also soak your masks for five minutes in a solution of one teaspoon of bleach for every quart of hot water. Make sure to get rid of any leftover bleach by rinsing the mask under the tap for 10 to 15 seconds, and soak it for another 5 minutes in clean water. You can hang your masks to dry completely.
6. Because, COVID-19 particles have a limited life span depending on the surface they end up on, you can use time as a method of face mask sanitization. According to Noble, a good sanitizing combo would be to boil, wash, or bleach your face masks, then let them sit for a week.
7. And don't forget to store your mask properly. Once you clean your mask, put it in a clean closed container or zip-lock bag.
Need a face covering? Click here to learn how to make your own.
Note that disposable masks made from non-woven fibers, KN95, and N95 masks cannot be safely cleaned at home. The CDC says if you have a KN95 or N95 mask, they can be worn up to five times by the same person.
And remember, when removing your cloth face covering, be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth and wash your hands immediately after removing.