So you’ve bought a triple-layered cloth face mask in a variety of colors. But how should you be cleaning and storing it to ensure you don’t get infected?
Cloth face masks worn during the coronavirus pandemic should be washed regularly and thrown out after the material or the filter shows signs of wear and tear.
Public health experts recommend wearing a mask made from cotton fabric, such as T-shirts, kitchen towels or scarves and bandannas, when you are outside and unable to maintain social distancing from others.
The covering should be washed daily after use, and be changed immediately – with clean hands – if you cough or sneeze into it.
It is best to clean your mask in a washing machine or with soap and hot water. Avoid using bleach as it may compromise the integrity of the fabric and cause it to weaken.
The mask should be dried completely. Dry it under the sun with plenty of sunlight or in a hot dryer, if possible. Some experts recommend waiting for it to dry at least two days. Also, make sure the elastic bands of your mask are still intact after your dryer cycle.
And be careful: Only masks made from fabrics such as cotton or polypropylene should be washed. If you have surgical masks and are trying to reuse them, you should think again. This is because surgical masks are made of a fabric that is very soft and only slightly stronger than paper napkins. The components of this type of mask can be severely damaged by some cleaning agents you use at your home.
You can store your clean and dry mask in a paper bag to keep it safe from germs.
Medical experts across the world have urged people to use washable cloth coverings or basic surgical masks to ensure there are enough N95, N99 and other heavy-duty masks for medical workers.