In March 2020, the CDC began recommending that “everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public” to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Seven states (and counting) have made wearing face coverings mandatory when outside, and today many stores and businesses require customers to wear a mask to enter.
It’s a strange new world that requires the incorporation of a strange new accessory and its proper care into our daily routines for the foreseeable future.
So we spent the last four weeks that we’d actually want to wear. Something beautiful, comfortable, and most of all, functional. And throughout development and testing we learned how to properly care for cloth face masks in a way that is safe and easy.
How often should I wash a face mask?
Best practice is to wash your face mask at the end of every day.
While viruses cannot live on fabric forever, early research suggests COVID-19 can live on fabric for anywhere from several hours up to a full day. Additionally, if you were to leave the mask on a surface after you’ve worn it, there is a chance it could transfer the virus to that surface. So rather than take any risks, you’ll want to wash the mask as soon as you’ve finished wearing it for the day.
Also, when you go to wash your mask, try not to touch your face.
What’s the best way to wash my mask?
Some masks are hand–wash only, while other masks are machine washable. You’ll want to check with the supplier of your mask for their recommendations.
Washing a cloth face mask by hand is really easy. You can wash it in a sink using warm, but not scalding hot, water. Just add a bit of either soap or detergent—enough that there is definite bubbling and frothing happening throughout the mask as you lather it. If your mask has a removable filter, like ours does, you should remove this and wash it along with your mask.
A minute or two is a good safe amount of time to spend washing the mask. That’s it.
Some masks, including ours, are machine washable, but we still prefer to wash them in the sink. It’s a big waste of water to run a mask though a washable machine if it’s not going through with a full load. If you do plan to wash your mask in a washing machine, wash on cold or medium heat.
Air drying is the way to go. Set the damp mask on a towel overnight and it’ll be ready to wear again in the morning. Don’t dry your mask in the dryer, as this can irreparably damage it.
If you’re in a jam and don’t have access to a sink or some way to wash your mask, what’s the best thing to do? We suggest taking a disinfectant wipe to all surfaces of your mask. Less thorough than washing with soap, but certainly better than doing nothing.
A few extra tips:
- Never share your face mask. Each mask is intended for one user and it comes in such close contact with your mouth and nose that it is very risky to use another person’s face mask, even if they seem symptom–free.
- Stop using a mask if you notice any odd smells or unknown stains on it.
- If your mask has a filter, check how many times the supplier says it can be washed. For instance, ours can be washed at least 20 times before the filter begins to lose its effectiveness.