This has definitely been a year of firsts! I never thought that I would be writing a blog about washing face masks, but here we are!
Now that it has been recommended that we wear a face mask in public to slow the spread of COVID-19, it’s important to know how to properly wash, disinfect and handle reusable cloth masks.
When fabric masks are not properly disinfected, they can become carriers for both bacteria, including E. coli, and viruses — norovirus and coronavirus.
Pathogens like bacteria and viruses can live on cloth fabric for longer than we may think — up to 8-12 hours. Because we don’t know what germs we’ve been in contact with or how low long the germs have been active on the cloth fibers, it is crucial to regularly wash, sanitize and dry reusable face masks.
Part of wearing a mask is washing a mask.
Although it may be time-consuming to wash reusable masks daily, after each use, it is an essential to prevent germ transmission. Always have a few extra face masks on hand so they can be rotated so you will always have a fresh, clean mask ready to use.
You can wash your masks in a washing machine or by hand. If using a washing machine, don’t be afraid to wash your mask along with your regular laundry — with standard laundry detergent and the warmest water the cloth material of your mask can handle. After laundering your fabric masks, tumble dry them in the dryer on a high setting.
You might consider using a non-scented laundry detergent if you are sensitive to perfumes, so it is easier to wear the masks.
Then store clean masks in a clean place when you are not using them.
Note: Disposable, blue surgical masks cannot be laundered or cleaned and should be thrown away when it is visibly soiled or damaged.
As a general reminder, here are some face mask hygiene etiquette tips:
- Always wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before you put on your mask.
- Make sure your mask is facing the right direction, so your face is not touching the mask exterior.
- Wear your mask snuggly over both your nose and mouth.
Try not to touch the mask while you’re wearing it.
- When removing the mask, touch only the attached strings or elastic bands. Hold it or place the mask on a sanitized surface until you’re ready to or wear it again or throw directly into the washing machine when you get home. Then wash your hands again.
So, practice these safe face mask habits and you will be less likely to contract the virus.
We are Tidy Time Saver, the house cleaning professionals who’ve been making Regina, Saskatoon and areas sparkle since 2001!