Wearing face masks has become an integral part of most people’s lives. While the objective of using face coverings is to stay protected against the spread of the COVID-19 virus, it’s also important to consider comfort when selecting face masks. Compared to disposable N95 masks and surgical masks, textile face coverings are softer and are more comfortable to wear for a longer period. Since cloth face masks can be washed and reused, they are also more eco-friendly than disposable ones.
While some people prefer to make face masks at home for economical reasons, it’s better to buy face coverings from a reputable brand because they come with additional features. Whether you are shopping for antimicrobial masks through the internet or buying from a physical store, proper care of your cloth face mask ensures that it will last for many uses while providing the protection you need.
Make sure to wash your mask after each use or as soon as they become dirty. Using dirty face coverings won’t be as effective in stopping the spread of germs, and they can harbor bacteria that can irritate your skin. To ensure your reusable face coverings keep you protected, here are some laundry tips for washing your face mask.
Toss the Cloth Mask into the Machine
When it comes to washing your cloth face masks, you can treat them the same way as you would the rest of your laundry. If you want to wash used masks in the washing machine, you can mix them with the rest of your laundry load. Make sure to use a detergent that can break down sweat, dirt, and oils that may be clinging to the fabric.
Typically, standard detergent formulas are tough enough to clean your mask. But if you have sensitive skin, you can swap it for a laundry detergent that’s gentler on the skin. Stay away from detergents with strong scents as they can leave residue on the textile, which may irritate the skin and cause rashes. Instead, use hypoallergenic fragrance-free laundry detergents.
After washing your cloth masks, you can air dry them by laying them flat on a surface or a drying rack. Using a rack that allows air to flow through the mask can help to completely and quickly dry the cloth face coverings. You can also dry masks in the dryer using the highest setting to kill any residual particles.
Hand Wash with Warm Soapy Water
Even if you used your mask when heading out for a quick errand, make sure to quickly wash it as soon as you come home. It will help stop the potential spread of viruses in your house. The easiest way to do this is by washing it by hand in a basin or your sink. When handwashing your reusable cloth masks, it’s best to use warm soapy water. The temperature of the water will help eliminate microbes while the soap can remove grime and oil that may be sticking to the fabric.
Although you can use any type of soap or detergent to wash the mask, you can also use other products. For example, you can use gentler soap formulas that won’t irritate your skin or leave a very fragrant smell on the textile. If you are sensitive to scents, wearing face masks laced with a strong fragrance can cause allergic reactions like sneezing and watery eyes. After washing your masks with soap and water, rinse them with clean water to remove any soap residue. Remember to wait until the mask is completely dry before wearing it because using wet cloth masks can be harder to breathe in and don’t filter as efficiently.
Handwashing is an easy way to make sure you always have clean cloth masks available. Also, washing your used textile mask by hand can help extend its life. When you put the mask in the washing machine, it can get tossed around and the fabric can snag. This can damage the mask and eventually leave tears and holes.
Soak the Mask in a Bleach and Water Solution
Using bleach is a great way to disinfect your used cloth mask and get rid of any lingering bacteria on the material. Before you use bleach, check the cloth mask’s label if it can be disinfected with bleach. Once you have confirmed bleach is a recommended cleaning agent, use bleach containing 5.25 to 8.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. Then, create a bleach solution by mixing five tablespoons or one-third cup of household bleach per gallon of room temperature water.
You can create the mixture in a basin or sink and soak your cloth face coverings in the solution for at least five minutes. Then, rinse the masks thoroughly using cool or room temperature water and proceed with your preferred drying method.
Depending on your preference, there are different ways you can wash your cloth face masks. Just remember to be mindful of handling used face coverings before laundering them. Remove your face mask through the ear loops or ties behind your head and refrain from touching the covering. Make sure not to touch any part of your face including your eyes, nose, and mouth when taking off the face mask, and immediately wash your hands after removal.
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