Now that masks are required for entry into many businesses or public spaces across the United States, you, like many others, have probably stocked up on face masks for yourself and your family. Masks are meant to help limit the spread of COVID-19, and with numbers continuing to rise, face mask requirements are unlikely to go anywhere — at least not anytime soon.
But the thing with face masks is that in order for them to be effective, you’ve got to keep them sanitized. Following the wrong steps in mask care and sanitization limits their efficacy.
There is one piece of good news in all of this, though. Keeping your masks sanitized is actually very easy when you follow the right steps.
How to Handwash Your Mask
Unless you have a big family or a lot of masks to wash, you’ll find that handwashing is the easiest route. Masks are small, easy to lose in the washer, and may need to be washed several times per week. This method is definitely preferred if you travel for work and need to wash your masks while on the go — pilots, flight attendants, traveling business people, and so on.
Handwashing masks is easy, economical, and effective — if you follow the right guidelines! The key is a good detergent and hot water!
Step 1. Remove any interior filters. These cannot be laundered and should be thrown away.
Step 2. Fill a sink or tub with HOT water. Add one squirt of Delicate Wash for each mask. (That’s the same as about 1TBSP.) Don’t be fooled by the name either — even though it’s named ‘Delicate Wash’, it’s tough on germs, but gentle on fabrics.
Step 3. Add your masks. Using a wooden spoon or similar depending on how hot your water might be, fully submerge and swish each mask through the water. Remember, in order to sanitize something, water must be at least 180°F.
Step 4. Allow the masks to soak for 10 minutes before rinsing thoroughly in hot water.
Step 5. Squeeze excess water from your mask, but avoid twisting it hard — this can damage the shape. Instead, press the water out by placing your masks on a clean towel. Roll the towel up like a sausage and squeeze tightly. Allow your masks to air dry.
Step 6. Replace new filters into your mask, if applicable.
Step 7. Fold and place your freshly laundered masks in a sanitized bin or storage container.
Pro Tip: Hang those masks in the sun! Bright, ultra-violet light can kill up to 99.99% of pathogens! Leave the masks in bright, direct sunlight for several hours, flipping them over mid-day.
How to Wash Your Mask in the Washing Machine
If you’re washing a large number of face masks or are short on time, you can also use your washing machine. With this method, you’ll need an extra tool to ensure your masks aren’t damaged — a Large Mesh Laundry Bag. These help to protect the masks as they tumble in the laundry and will prevent your masks from being damaged or going the same way as spare socks — disappearing into thin air!
Step 1. If your face mask has a separate filter between the layers of fabric, remove it. Coffee filters, HVAC filters, and other DIY filters aren’t machine washable.
Step 2. Place your face masks into a mesh laundry bag. If you don’t have one, get one! (You can thank us later.)
Step 3. Place your bag full of face masks into the washer and add one full scoop of Oxygen Whitener and 2 TBSP of Delicate Wash. Launder on the gentle cycle, but select the hottest water setting possible.
Step 4. We recommend air drying masks, but if you’d rather take a shortcut, here’s what to do! Place your bag full of face masks into the dryer. Add a couple of wool dryer balls to help keep the masks soft and flexible. Dry on hot.
Step 5. Remove your freshly laundered masks! If you need to, iron out wrinkles that would impede the mask from laying smoothly against your face.
Step 6. If you have removed a filter from your mask, replace it with a new filter.
Step 7. Fold and store your face masks in a sanitized bin with a lid.
Pro Tip: Because it takes heat to kill bacteria, we recommend choosing masks that are made of durable materials, such as cotton. Avoid flimsy fleece or jersey fabrics when choosing a mask so that you can launder it appropriately without ruining it.
How to Sanitize Your Mask On the Go
If there is one thing this pandemic has shown us, it is that we touch our faces far more than we ever would have guessed. It’s SO hard to remember to avoid touching our faces or adjusting our masks! Unfortunately, every time we do this, we’re introducing germs from our hands onto our mask and vice versa. This reduces the protection your mask offers.
So, when you’re taking your mask off throughout the day, if you’ve dropped it, or perhaps if you just forgot to wash it the night before, what do you do? That’s simple. You can sanitize it using our Fabric and Hand Sanitizer Spray.
First, spray your hands (those have got to be clean!). Then remove your mask (if you haven’t already) and spray both sides of the mask thoroughly. Allow it to dry while you sanitize your hands one more time. Once it’s dry, it can be safely put back on.
We’re pretty proud of our Fabric and Hand Sanitizer Spray. It’s made using only safe ingredients that kill bacteria and viruses, without being harmful or harsh on your skin. Its active ingredient is 70% isopropyl alcohol, which kills 99.9% of germs in 20 seconds.*
It can be safely used on masks — and we think you’ll enjoy the fresh aroma of lavender instead of your own breath!
How Often Should You Wash Your Mask?
Ideally, you should wash your face mask after each use. This is especially true when you’re out running errands or are in public areas where there is more possibility of exposure to viruses.
The tricky part of such frequent washing, of course, is that if you work outside the home or are forced to run lots of errands, you can very quickly run out of masks. It’s best to have enough at least one mask per day for each family member for a week — more if you have to leave the home often. Wash all the masks together when you start getting low.
Do You Know? There are Guidelines for Face Masks
All face coverings — DIY or otherwise — should meet the following requirements, as outlined by the CDC:
- Fits snugly (but comfortably!) along the face
- Can be secured with ties or loops
- Includes multiple layers of fabric
- Allows for breathing without restriction
- Can be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to the shape
At Least There Are Some Things You Can Rely On
In these uncertain and unsettling times, it’s nice to know that there are some things you can rely on. For instance, there will always be more laundry and cleaning to do — and there will always be our safe, natural products to help you do it. Other places may not be safe, but at least your home will be.
We’re in the thick of things right along with you. We’re endlessly proud that you’ve chosen us to be on the team helping to keep your homes and families safe.