Steps for cleaning a cloth face mask
Dr. Elliott, immunologist and national spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, recommends cleaning cloth masks after each use. It's a good idea to have several masks on hand that can be rotated, so a clean one is always readily available.
Cloth masks can be machine-washed or hand-washed. When handling soiled masks, it's a good idea to wear disposable gloves and keep the masks away from your face.
- If the mask has a pocket that holds a removable non-woven filter, always remove the filter before washing the mask. If you are using a folded bandanna or scarf that has detachable elastic ear bands, remove those as well.
- A mesh laundry bag is a great way to keep the masks from tangling if you're machine-washing them with other clothes. The mesh bag can go directly from the washer to the dryer.
- Sort the masks by color. Do not wash colored masks with white masks or clothes unless you are certain that the fabric is colorfast.
- Set the water temperature on your washer to hot and the cycle to normal. If you choose to hand-wash masks, fill the sink with hot water.
- Use a heavy-duty detergent like Persil or Tide that contains enough enzymes to break down soil and sweat on the interior surface of the mask. When hand-washing, add about one teaspoon of detergent to the basin of water before adding the masks.
- Use warm or cool water to rinse the masks.
- Cloth masks should be dried on the highest heat cycle in an automatic dryer. If you do not have a dryer, place the masks on a drying rack in direct sunlight.
- When the masks are dry, store them in a covered container until you are ready to wear them.