Tips To Clean and Sanitize a Face Mask

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Face masks are protective gear that can help in keeping healthy individuals safe from the novel COVID-19 virus. A face mask, when properly worn, can protect the wearer from possible allergies and viruses that can possibly affect the health of an individual.

On the other hand, if the person is ill, a face mask can help in limiting the transmission of the disease to those taking care of the sick or people sitting nearby from the fluids expelled during talking, coughing, or sneezing.

Protective health masks made at home of tightly woven cotton or cotton/polyester blend can be washed and reused

Before you begin cleaning your face mask, bear in mind that the proper way of wearing it and taking it off is essential. Make sure to wash your hands before putting on a mask and try not to touch it again. For the most protection, the mask must be tightly worn on the face covering the mouth and the nose. Identify the outside and the inside of the mask, and be sure to always place the inside against the face mask.

When removing the mask, untie the strings and slip the elastic bands from behind the ears. Do not hold the front of the mask and place it in a cloth washer or a paper bag if you don’t intend to use it again. Immediately wash your hands to avoid spreading the disease.

What you’ll need

  • Paper bag
  • Washing machine
  • Sink or plastic tub
  • Mesh laundry bag
  • Disposable gloves
  • Heavy duty detergent
  • Cloth dryers, clothesline, drying rack
  • Laundry sanitizer, chlorine bleach, or pine oil


1. Protect the hands

When washing face masks, it is important to protect your hand using disposable gloves. Keep the mask away from the face and wash your hands immediately, even if you are wearing gloves.

2. Sort the fabric

If the mask is white, it can be washed with white bed sheets and towels. On the other hand, if your mask is of a specific color, test it before it is washed for the first time.

To test the color, damp a cotton swap with water and rub it on a corner of the mask. If any color transfers to the cotton swap, it means that it is not colorfast and must be washed with hand to prevent the dye from transferring to other clothes.

If you are washing a homemade mask made using a scarf with rubber bands and hair ties, remove the band before washing. Not just that, remove any coffee filter papers and dispose of them.

3. Use a mesh laundry bag

A mesh laundry bag can help in keeping the mask intact in the washing machine. If the mask has string ties, it will also prevent traveling. A good tip — both the mesh bag and the mask in it can be tossed into the laundry without a worry.

4. Set the water temperature and cycle

Cloth face masks should be washed in hot water using a normal wash cycle. Even if you are hand washing the mask in the sink, use hot water to clean the mask.

5. Add detergent

Use a heavy-duty detergent that contains enzymes to break down the body oils and can be flushed away with the water you get rid of the virus.

6. Disinfect the fabric

While using hot water to wash the mask is in itself a disinfectant, adding a disinfectant in washing the mask can give you the security of wearing a clean mask when using it again. It adds a layer of protection so that you can keep away from infectious diseases.

  • With that said, the type of disinfectant you should use depends on the type of fabric. While chlorine bleach is an excellent disinfectant, it can also damage the cloth if used incorrectly. Here are three types of disinfectants you should use:
  • Phenolic disinfectants — they are effective in all water temperatures and can be used on white and colored fabrics. They are usually added during the rinse cycle. However, you should read the directions carefully.
  • Liquid chlorine bleach — can be used in hot, warm, or cold water only on white fabric. However, this can damage the cloth as well, so choose the formula that works best for the fabric you are using.

Pine oil disinfectants — are effective in hot and warm water and can be used on white or colored fabrics. They must be added at the beginning of the wash to be effective.

7. Dry the mask on high heat

Set the dryer to a high temperature and tumble dry the mask. The high temperature used to dry the mask will kill any bacteria left on the mask. Place it in a position where there is direct sunlight.

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