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How to Clean Your Mask

coronavirus mask safety and hygiene

The United States is still dealing with a shortage of PPE, over nine months into the pandemic. In order to address this shortage, and as we work together to reduce mask waste, we have to become adept at washing our reusable masks.

Wash regularly for mask safety

Do I Have to Wash?

A recent study by Livinguard showed that 79% of Americans don’t wash their reusable face masks after every use. 10% don’t wash their face masks at all! When you re-use a face mask without washing it, you increase the risk of coming into contact with virus particles the mask was working to block.

The health threat of a dirty mask isn’t limited to the coronavirus. The moisture in your breath can also make a mask a breeding ground for bacteria when it’s left to sit out between multiple uses. It goes without saying that you don’t want COVID-19, but you don’t need those other germs rubbing on your face either.

That’s why the CDC recommends a reusable face covering should be washed after each use. For the maskSAFE Family, that means we clean our masks at the end of each day, keeping them safe and secure in our maskSAFE during any breaks we have. This protects the mask from coming into contact with contaminants in a purse or pocket, and it can also prolong the life of a face covering!

How Do I Wash?

During the pandemic, we’re regularly encouraged to take care of ourselves and “wash our hands.” Well, one way to care for our masks is to “wash by hand.” The CDC recommends washing your mask in a room temperature solution with four teaspoons of disinfecting bleach for every quart of water. You’ll want to wear protective gloves during the prep and use of this solution.

Your cloth face mask should soak in bleach and water for at least five minutes, and then it can be rinsed with cool water. For the final steps, the CDC recommends either using a clothes dryer on the hottest setting, or air drying your washed mask in a place where it gets plentiful sunlight.

You can also machine wash your mask with the rest of your laundry. Just make sure that you do this at the highest possible temperature recommended for the mask fabric. The heat, and addition of a disinfecting bleach, gives you the best chance at eliminating contaminants.

A Lighter Option

However, for people with underlying respiratory conditions, bleach additives can be irritating. Warm water and an organic soap will be more gentle on your lungs and skin, and are the next best option when washing your reusable mask by hand.

The Choice

Whether it comes down to your mask material, your mask type (a maskSAFE can even extend the life of a disposable mask), or the chemicals you use to wash that mask, we have myriad choices to make about how we keep ourselves and our families safe from the threat of the coronavirus. All of those choices can be a little overwhelming at times, but this much should be common sense – the clothing and accessories you put on your body need to be clean!

- the maskSAFE Family

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