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. 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Sort the masks by color. Do not wash colored masks with white masks or clothes unless you are certain that the fabric is colorfast.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Use warm or cool water to rinse the masks.
  7. 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.
  8. When the masks are dry, store them in a covered container until you are ready to wear them.