Wearing a mask is important, and when it comes to reusable fabric masks, it is also important to wash and dry them properly. Here's how to do it.
As a means of slowing the spread of COVID-1
If you are lucky enough to have a washing machine at home, machine washing is the easiest and most efficient way to clean fabric masks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a washing machine will get masks safely clean. Just throw them in the washer and dryer with the rest of your outerwear.
Use a hot water level and dry over high heat. The heat in combination with the detergent helps break down the virus. You can also use a detergent with bleach for extra protection.
If you can, you may want to set your hot water heater to 140 degrees, the temperature that kills most germs. Be careful when showering, however, as this higher temperature setting can burn you when you turn on the hot water. If you have children, it is best not to set your water heater so high.
Even if you cannot adjust your water heater, the high heat setting on your dryer should be enough to neutralize the virus. So if you use a washing machine, make sure you always follow it with the dryer instead of drying it.
If you are not ready to wash your mask yet, place it in a plastic bag so that it cannot contaminate everything.
Finally, whether you make it yourself or buy it online, look for machine-washable, dry-safe mask fabric. A delicate, hand-washable mask may look nice, but it's better to have the durability (and convenience) of machine-washable materials.
If you don't have a washing machine or don't want to wash a load of laundry every time you need to sanitize your masks, you can wash them by hand instead.
Mix a teaspoon of bleach in one liter of hot water and soak your masks in the solution for five minutes to kill the virus. Then rinse your masks under running water. Soak them in clean water for a few minutes to further dilute and rinse the last bleach. Finally hang them up to dry.
Wait It Out
This is not the most efficient method, but viruses do not live on dust forever, so waiting for the virus to die is also a viable "cleaning" option.
While scientists aren't 100 percent sure how long the coronavirus lives on dust, it certainly won't take more than a week. So you can put your used masks in a ziploc bag or a separate, unused room. Leave them there for a week, and you can safely assume that they are virus-free.
Of course, human error can play a role in any cleaning method and make it imperfect. You can calculate the days incorrectly and put your mask back on too quickly. You may forget to put the detergent in the washing machine.
For your peace of mind, consider more than one of these cleaning methods to ensure success. For example, you can wash and dry a mask by hand and then leave it alone for a week to be sure.
Storing clean masks
Once you have cleaned your masks, you should not slide them. in a drawer with the rest of your laundry. Seal them in an airtight container, such as a ziploc bag or plastic storage container. This way they remain clean and uncontaminated. Ziploc bags are especially useful if you want to bring a spare clean mask with you when you're out and about.
Of course, always keep clean masks apart from dirty ones so you don't forget which ones.
How to check your masks for damage
Effective washing methods are often hard, so you should always check your masks for damage before wearing them again. Fabric masks don't last forever and it's important to replace them as soon as they develop holes or damage.
Hold your masks up to the light and check for holes or thinning spots in the fabric. Once you see the fabric begin to thin or form a visible hole, it's time for a new mask.
The Internet is full of countless other ideas for cleaning masks, from microwaves to UV light. However, experts agree that the methods listed here are the most effective and feasible for home care.
Washing your masks well is not difficult, but it is an important step to protect yourself and those around you.