Wearing a face mask is proving to be one of the most effective ways to keep the infection rate low for certain viruses such as COVID-19. Many workplaces are now requiring the face masks to protect staff and customers from potential viral exposure. Quality reusable face masks made of breathable fabric are a good non-medical alternative that can help businesses and individuals meet state and local mask-wearing requirements. But this leads to the question of how to clean a reusable face mask.
Those who wear reusable cloth masks have two great options for keeping this type of mask clean: hand washing and machine washing. Either way, you should be sure to remove any filters inserted into the mask before washing.
Hand Washing a Mask
Any mask made of fabric can be washed by hand. Fill a container with hot water and add any detergent you prefer to use. Gently hand wash the mask in the soapy water for a minimum of 20 seconds. This is long enough to ensure any virus attached to the mask is dislodged. Hang the mask to dry or use a blow dryer set on high heat for faster drying.
Machine Washing a Mask
Fabric masks can be tossed into the washing machine and cleaned like other clothing. Set the machine on hot water and add your favorite laundry detergent. Afterwards, place them into the dryer and dry on a high heat setting.
Store your clean mask in an area that is free of contamination (drawer, container, cloth bag, plastic bag, etc.). It's a good idea for each person to have at least two masks. One can be worn while the other is being laundered.
Are Surgical Masks Reusable?
Blue surgical masks are commonly worn by most medical professionals. But is this type of face mask reusable? No, it's not. These disposable masks are not designed for washing and reuse, so they should be discarded.
Are N95 Masks Reusable?
The single-use N95 mask offers a high level of protection from tiny viral particles. However, due to lack of availability, the CDC has set guidelines for extended use. An individual should have at least five N95 masks to rotate through. After it is worn, this type of mask can be hung up to dry or placed inside a clean paper bag and left there for 72 hours for decontamination. Mask sharing is not recommended.