Cleaning Hacks

The Most Common Face Mask Cleaning Mistakes—And How To Sanitize It the *Right* Way

Tehrene Firman

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Photo: Stocksy/Nicole Mason

It’s not just important to wear a face mask when you’re out and about in order to protect yourself and prevent the spread of COVID-19. It’s also just as crucial to clean it once you get home. But not just any method works, and there are certainly some dos and don’ts when it comes to sanitizing your face mask correctly.

To keep yourself and others safe, here are three face mask cleaning mistakes to avoid making—as well as how to clean it properly and some great washable options to buy.

The most common face mask mistakes

1. Only cleaning your mask once a week

If you’re only cleaning your face mask once a week, you could be putting yourself at risk. Lisa Lockerd Maragakis, MD, MPH, told Johns Hopkins Medicine you should be washing your face mask after every use. That way, you’re always wearing something clean every time you leave your home. “It’s a good idea to have at least two. This way, you will have a fresh mask if one is in the wash,” she says.

2. Spraying with disinfectants

Spraying your cloth face mask with disinfectants like Lysol or Clorox is never a good idea. Sure, you may kill the virus, but you’re left inhaling whichever cleaning product you used, not to mention allowing those chemicals to rub into your skin for hours—two things that are a recipe for disaster. Save them for your countertops instead.

3. Washing with cold water

While washing with water—warm or cold–can kill the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using the warmest setting you can for whichever material your cloth face mask is made of every time you wash it.

How to clean your face mask properly

Cleaning your face mask properly is actually really easy. Dr. Lockerd Maragakis says they should be cleaned after every use to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, and you can do that by washing it like you would any of your other clothes.

Cloth masks should be washed in the washing machine in hot water and detergent, then dried in the dryer on a high setting. “You might consider using a non-scented laundry detergent if you’re sensitive to perfumes so it’s easier to wear the masks,” she says. And if you prefer hand-washing your face mask, you can do that, too. “Scrub the mask for at least 20 seconds, and dry them on high heat in the dryer.”

Washable face masks to buy right now

1. Sanctuary Organic Cotton Face Masks, $24 for 3

Photo: Sanctuary

These face masks are made from soft organic cotton, come with a removable filter, and can be washed after each use.

2. Kitsch Cotton Face Mask, $12 for 3

Photo: Kitsch

These pretty pastel face masks come in three different patterns, have comfortable ear loops, and are easy to wash.

3. Old Navy Variety Face Masks, $12.50 for 3

Photo: Old Navy

You can’t go wrong with this five-pack of three-ply cotton face masks. Once you’re done wearing one, put it in the washer and dryer and you’re good to go.

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