SAN ANTONIO – It’s not enough to simply wear a mask to prevent yourself from COVID-19, you have to make sure and properly wash them regularly too.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cloth masks should be washed after each use.
(And you should sanitize your hands after handling a used face covering.)
Washing masks in the machine
Cloth masks can be washed by machine and can be included with regular laundry with everyday laundry detergent. The water should be set at the warmest possible setting, the CDC states.
If you have sensitive skin or are sensitive to scents, you may want to avoid fabric softener and do an extra rinse cycle to make sure all of the soap has been rinsed out.
Washing masks by hand
When washing by hand, the CDC gives step-by-step instructions to use a bleach solution.
- Use bleach that is intended for disinfection, as some bleaches for colored clothing may not be used for disinfection.
- Use bleach with 5.25%–8.25% sodium hypochlorite, that’s not expired, and that’s not mixed with ammonia or any other cleanser.
- To make a gallon of bleach solution, combine 5 tablespoons of bleach per gallon of room-temperature water. To make a quart of the solution, combine 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of room-temperature water.
- Let the mask soak in the solution for five minutes, then rinse thoroughly with cool or room-temperature water.
- Make sure the mask is completely dry after washing and reusing.
- Discard the bleach solution.
The CDC says to make sure there’s adequate ventilation and urges people to use hand and eye protection when using bleach. Bleach can change the color of the fabric and damage fabric over time.
Masks can be dried in a dryer with the highest heat setting possible. If you have sensitive skin or are sensitive to scents, you should avoid using a dryer sheet.
Masks can also be laid flat to dry by air. If air drying, the CDC recommends placing the mask in direct sunlight.
Food stains on masks can be cleaned with spot stain removers like Shout spray, Carolyn Forte, the director of the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Home Appliances and Cleaning Products Lab, told CNN.
Makeup on masks can be removed with rubbing alcohol, but they can be pre-treated by using makeup remover towelettes, the report states.