Now that face masks have become a necessity, it's good to know how to clean and reuse them.
Disposable masks often contain plastics and unfortunately there has already been a rising concern among environmentalists that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like masks and gloves are not being disposed of properly. These products which are meant to keep us safe are finding their way back into the environment, but re-using cloth masks can help mitigate this growing issue. Disposable masks are great for a lot of situations, but re-usable cloth masks are a must!
Cleaning and sanitizing cloth face masks isn't too complicated and there’s a few methods specifically that can get the job done. All you need is access to the proper cleaning materials and maybe a few tips for the techniques. It is recommended that you clean cloth masks after each use, so if you’ve only been getting by with 1 or 2, it’s probably a good idea to buy a couple more. Cloth masks will also wear out after time, so be sure to pay attention to the overall condition of the material after each wash. If you start to see rips or tears, then it’s time for a new one. Unlike the disposable masks though, they won’t harm the environment when you toss them – so you’re helping save the earth while staying safe.
Let’s clean those masks!
Here are the best washing methods:
First off, not all cloth face coverings are made the same way. For any masks with pockets holding a removable non-woven filter, be sure to always remove the filter before washing the mask. If you happen to be using a folded bandana or scarf that has detachable elastic ear bands, remember to remove those as well.
We also recommend you clean and disinfect any hard surfaces in your laundry area before starting your laundry. If you have a counter or table for folding laundry, be sure to wipe it clean using a non-toxic disinfectant cleaner before placing any clean clothes or linens on top. Keep a couple of plastic bags or storage bins to keep your masks in after being cleaned. It's also a good idea to wipe down the interior and exterior of the washing and dryer machines between uses.
Method 1: Washing Machine
Cleaning your face masks doesn’t need to be difficult. If you have access to a washing machine at home, then use it to clean your masks the same way you would your regular clothes using your favorite laundry detergent. You can include your masks with your regular laundry as well, just be sure to wash them at the warmest appropriate water setting for the cloth material used to make them.
Some washing machines also have a setting available called a sanitize cycle, which is meant to help to reduce or eliminate the number of bacteria and microorganisms in your laundry. If your washing machine has this setting available, we recommend using it – that’s what it’s there for! Also, a mesh laundry bag is a great way to keep your masks from tangling if you're machine-washing them with your regular laundry. The mesh bag can be transferred directly from the washer to the dryer along with the rest of your items.
Method 2: Hand Washing w/o Bleach
We know hand washing clothes can be time consuming, but we are only talking about face masks here. Masks are pretty simple to clean and you can do so using laundry soap or detergent, and hot water. We don’t recommend soaking your masks in any bleach solution as it can sometimes become a respiratory irritant.
Use a detergent with enough power to break down soil and sweat on the interior surface of the mask. Boulder Clean laundry detergent is a great non-toxic option for just this. Simply add 1 teaspoon of our detergent into your container filled with hot water before adding the masks. Use warm or cool water to rinse the masks before drying.
Here are the best drying methods:
Method 1: Dryer Machine
Let’s not make this any harder than it needs to be. If you have a dryer machine, then you’ll be able to dry your face masks quickly and easily. According to the CDC, Cloth masks should be dried using your dryers highest heat setting to help disinfect, however household dryer temperatures rarely reach the threshold temperature needed to disinfect entirely. Therefore, we recommend adding disinfectant dryer sheets or dryer sanitizers as needed.
Method 2: Air dry
Don’t have access to a dryer machine? That’s not a problem, but you will need to allow your masks enough time in direct sunlight to kill germs. We don’t recommend using an indoor laundry rack without access to a healthy portion of direct sunlight, so it’s best hang them to dry outdoors if you’re able to. Pay close attention to the time of day as well. You will need to allow your masks at least 1 hour in direct sunlight on both sides to ensure any remaining pathogens have been exposed to ultra-violet light.
Additional Disinfecting Tips:
Are you using a clothes hamper? If so, make sure to give it a healthy douse of disinfecting spray. A dirty clothes hamper tends to pick up germs and odors from the clothes and linens stored inside You’ll want to clean the inside of the hamper each time after emptying it. You can always buy a second laundry hamper specifically to use for clean clothes, but it entirely depends on your situation and might not make sense for everyone. If that happens to be the case, we’ve got you covered with our non-toxic Disinfectant Spray.