Reusable cloth face coverings prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. However, they become less effective if you don't clean them properly. Ideally, you should wash your face covering after every wear. If you have a washer and dryer at home, you can wash your cloth masks with your regular laundry. You can also wash them by hand in a bleach solution. Make sure your face covering is completely dry before you wear it. Otherwise, you might have difficulty breathing.
Method 1 of 2:Using a Washing Machine
1Include your masks with your regular laundry. You don't need to run your masks on a separate cycle. Toss them in with regular laundry of similar colors. Put them in a mesh laundry bag (you can get these online or anywhere laundry supplies are sold) to keep them from getting tangled up with your other laundry.
Remove any detachable parts before washing your masks. For example, if you have a homemade cloth mask with hair ties for ear loops, remove those before washing the mask.
If your mask includes a carbon filter, take the filter out and throw it away before washing the mask.
2Add your usual laundry detergent. You don't need any special laundry detergent to clean your masks. However, if you're sensitive to perfumes, you might want to use an unscented laundry detergent since the mask will cover your nose and mouth.Trustworthy SourceJohns Hopkins MedicineOfficial resource database of the world-leading Johns Hopkins HospitalGo to source
If you have a detergent that contains bleach or another disinfectant, you can use that to kill as many germs as possible. But check the label — color-safe bleaches might not have disinfectant properties.
3Run the machine with hot water. For best results, wash your masks in water that is at least 140 °F (60 °C). If your washing machine has a"sanitize"cycle, use that as well.Trustworthy SourceWorld Health OrganizationHealth information and news provided by the World Health Organization.Go to source
If you have a face covering with dark or brightly-colored cloth, you may not be able to wash it in hot water without the colors running. Wash it on the warmest setting you can that's safe for the fabric and the dye.Trustworthy SourceCenters for Disease Control and PreventionMain public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human ServicesGo to source
4Dry your face coverings on the highest heat setting. The hottest setting is typically the"regular"or"cottons"setting. Leave your face coverings in the dryer until they are completely dry. This might take longer than your regular laundry because cloth masks often have several layers.Trustworthy SourceCenters for Disease Control and PreventionMain public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human ServicesGo to source
Wash your hands before you touch your face coverings to see if they're completely dry.
Household dryers rarely get hot enough to disinfect, so you might also add dryer sanitizers or disinfectant dryer sheets.
Method 2 of 2:Washing Your Mask by Hand
1Mix a bleach solution with 4 tsp (20 mL) of bleach to 1 US qt (0.95 L) water. Use a large bowl or bucket to mix your bleach solution. You can also wash your masks in your sink. Clean the container or your sink thoroughly before using them to wash your masks.Trustworthy SourceCenters for Disease Control and PreventionMain public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human ServicesGo to source
If you're using your sink to wash your mask, measure the water so you can get the bleach proportions correct — don't just run water in the sink and guess.
Check the label of your bleach product to make sure it's effective to disinfect. Some bleach products, such as those formulated to be used on colored clothing, are not effective disinfectants.
2Soak your mask in the bleach solution for at least 5 minutes. Scrub the mask for a minute to make sure the bleach solution thoroughly penetrates all layers of the mask. Then leave it to soak, completely submerged in the bleach solution.Trustworthy SourceCenters for Disease Control and PreventionMain public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human ServicesGo to source
If air pockets in the layers of your mask cause it to float to the surface, you might want to use a heavy object to weigh it down.
You can also boil your mask for 1 minute to disinfect it.Trustworthy SourceWorld Health OrganizationHealth information and news provided by the World Health OrganizationGo to source
3Rinse your mask thoroughly with cool water. Wash your hands, then pull the mask out of the bleach solution by the ear loops or ties. Holding those pieces, not the mask itself, run cool water over it until it's completely rinsed out. Avoid touching the mask or wringing it out.Trustworthy SourceWorld Health OrganizationHealth information and news provided by the World Health Organization.Go to source
Place the mask on a clean dry towel and roll it up to remove excess water before hanging it out to dry. Continue to avoid touching the mask itself.
4Hang your mask or lay it out flat to dry. If you don't have access to a clothes dryer, hang it by the ear loops with clothespins or lay it flat so that it can dry completely. If possible, hang it or lay it out in a place that gets direct sunlight.
For maximum disinfection, leave your mask out in the sun in the middle of the day for at least an hour. Ultraviolet light from the sun kills up to 99.99% of all pathogens.
If at all possible, leave your masks out in the sun all day, flipping them over halfway through the day so both sides of your mask are exposed to direct sunlight.
Wash your hands before touching any part of your mask to move it or check if it's dry.Trustworthy SourceWorld Health OrganizationHealth information and news provided by the World Health OrganizationGo to source