First thing’s first: Do not clean and reuse surgical face masks.
Surgical face masks may be worn for a few hours only and then discarded. These masks are not designed for washing and reusing. If you want to reuse face masks in the pandemic, then purchase or DIY a reusable fabric face masks. These masks are made with sturdier material, and even if they are not surgical masks, they still help reduce transmission of many infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
Note that wearing masks is part of several steps that you can take to prevent getting COVID-19 and subsequently spread it. The most important step is still frequent hand washing with soap and water.
The best way to avoid getting the virus is by social distancing and reducing exposure to people who may have the disease. The minimum for social distancing is six feet, though if you can limit being around people in public in general, that would be ideal.
COVID-19 can be transferred to you through respiratory droplets. These droplets can land on your eyes, nose, and mouth. In some cases, COVID-19 can also be transmitted by touching contaminated surfaces and bringing your hands to your face. Hand washing, on the other hand, should be done more frequently.
Wash your hands before your hands come into contact with your face. Food preparation is also an excellent time to wash your hands. Do it before you handle food. When you handle your mask after a prolonged period, cleanse your hands as the mask’s entire surface should be considered contaminated already.
Frequent handwashing and mask-wearing are highly essential if you are caring for someone who is sick, especially if that person happens to have COVID-19 and other diseases that can quickly be passed onto others through respiratory droplets.
How to Clean a Face Mask?
Face masks come in all sizes, shapes, makes, and materials. Reusable face masks made of cloth and other materials can be washed and used safely. The only kind of mask that you should never reuse is the disposable mask. Disposable masks come in many varieties, from KN95 to N95 to the blue or green surgical masks.
The filtration capacity of a disposable face mask doesn’t matter – what matters is how the masks are designed. Disposable masks will not hold up against washing, and they are no longer safe for use afterward.
People now use face masks or face covers like scarves and bandannas in some instances. Motorcycle masks and reusable cloth masks are also popular. These are the types of masks that can be washed and reused safely. For the most part, you can wash these reusable masks in your regular wash cycle with hot water and regular laundry detergent.
The use of bleach is also recommended, but not all fabrics can be bleached. Color scarves and bandannas, for example, cannot be washed with regular bleach as the pigment will likely bleed out. You can use color-safe bleach if you wish, as these can also help kill bacteria.
How often should I launder my face masks?
All reusable face masks should be washed within the day. Treat them as disposable masks (use once and then replace) to reduce the risk of contracting any pathogens on the masks. If possible, leave them outside your home and bring them in only if you are going to wash them. It’s not a good idea to have used masks hanging around the kitchen or living room. Separate them as these used masks might be harboring pathogens. For extra safety, you may wear a pair of gloves while handling reusable masks for washing.
How should reusable masks be dried?
Tumble drying reusable masks are beautiful. If you want to make your masks a little bit cleaner, then what you can do is steam-iron or iron them.
What kind of soap is best for laundering masks?
Reusable masks will do fine with any kind of detergent soap. The soap only becomes an issue when you are allergic or sensitive to the scent of detergent soap. For example, if you sneeze easily in detergents and other laundering materials, you may want to consider using something else. Unscented liquid or powdered detergents will work just as well. Many people don’t know that viruses like the COVID-19 can break down in the presence of water. Soap and bleach are excellent for ensuring that the hardier or more durable viral components don’t cause trouble.
Can you handwash reusable masks?
Hand washing can be done on reusable masks. If you are not too confident about touching potentially contaminated masks, as we have said before, you can always wear thick gloves. Thick gloves will protect you from direct contact with the virus before submerging the masks in a basin of hot water. Be careful with washing with warm or hot water. If it’s too hot to touch, then it’s not safe to wash your reusable masks.
Scrubbing is essential to ensure that any grime or viruses are removed from the surfaces of the masks. The cleaner your masks are, the safer they are for us. Scrubbing for 20 seconds is a fair amount of time and should be sufficient for hand washing masks. High-heat drying is then recommended afterward. If not, you can always air-dry your masks and use an iron later on as a finishing touch.
All freshly-dried reusable masks should be stored in a safe and clean place. A box with a cover is beautiful. Don’t leave them about the house in the open air. Maintain the cleanliness of your reusable masks at all times.
Washing reusable masks is easy – use regular detergent soap and hot water for best results. When handwashing your masks, be sure to scrub each one for at least 20 seconds to ensure that all contaminants are removed. Bleach may be used but only for fabrics that can be bleached.