Wearing a face mask has become as important as the other preventive measures for COVID-19 (although it does not substitute more effective actions like social distancing). Either way, many people are buying face coverings or making them themselves following several online tutorials. As a result, there’s a vast diversity of face masks—made of different fabrics, elastics, and filters, and sewed by hand or by machine—and washing them becomes tricky.
In the following paragraphs, we will tell you the best way to clean face coverings and other frequent questions about cleaning face masks.
How should I wash my face covering?
According to the CDC general guidelines, “fabric face masks should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use.” Also, it says that a washing machine is a good-enough method to wash a face mask properly; however, this official information doesn’t take into account the different types of fabrics and filters. If you’re using a homemade face covering, don’t use the washing machine and clean your mask by hand instead. This way is better because some handsewn coverings can be delicate.
Regarding the washing process, soap and hot water is always the best option. Scrub your face covering for at least 20 seconds with soapy water before tossing in the dryer. Plus, you can iron it to kill any remaining germs or just for peace of mind. And don’t clean your mask by microwave or dishwasher because it’s not very effective.
Should I wash the filter?
If you’re using a medium weight nonwoven interface, this fabric is generally washable, so use the washing machine or by hand method with soap and hot water. But, for most homemade face coverings, the filter is disposable, and you have to replace it with every use. In fact, many of the face mask tutorials you’ll find on the internet recommend using a coffee filter, and nobody uses a coffee filter more than once, right? Also, HVAC filters are washable but consider that it might lose some effectiveness with every wash.
How often should I wash my face covering?
The CDC doesn’t mention any specific washing frequency, just that you should clean your face covering depending regularly. So, there are no rules about this topic, but you can apply your criteria. For instance, when you are living with a symptomatic person, or are back from a long and crowded journey to the grocery store, you should be extra careful and wash your face covering right away. If you just walk a block to the nearby local store and all was calm, you could leave the cleaning for another occasion. Just remember to take off your mask properly (without touching the fabric and washing your hands immediately).
When should I replace it?
Reusable face masks are not meant to last forever, especially when you use them frequently. Intense washing can shorten the useful life of your face covering, but that’s something you can’t avoid (you better not risk it and leave germs and viruses after a less effective wash). So, replace your mask when you start to see small holes in the fabric or your it doesn’t cover your face correctly anymore.
Remember that wearing a face mask protects others from you and not so much the other way around, so keep practicing social distancing and wash your hands, please. Also, if you want to disinfect your home to prevent COVID-19, book our professional cleaning service online.