The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s new recommendations about face masks have us wearing them wherever we go. Whether you have purchased face masks from a seller or made them yourself with an at-home DIY, it is worth it to keep a couple on hand to cycle through, so any excess can be donated to health care staff and emergency responders to better sustain the PPE supply for those at high risk of exposure.
What’s the safest way to keep them safe and eliminate dirt and contamination while we’re reusing our masks for grocery runs, work, and other important events.
The only choice out there isn’t plain fabric face masks. Scarves, neck gaiters, and repurposed garments became options for individuals waiting for surgical masks or N95 masks. For certain communities, fiber dust masks, such as those used on building sites, are still an alternative after contributing both N95 and surgical masks to hospitals.
According to the CDC, disposable fiber masks can never be reused. It will kill viruses by exposing them to high heat, but the procedure can weaken the material and make it brittle, so you will be more vulnerable to infection by doing it.
A piece of breathable, high-performance fabric is best for safe reuse when selecting a material for your face mask. A perfect substitute is a neck gaiter, typically made for sport-use. The tighter mesh of these fabrics stops small particles from moving through, according to this analysis by SmartAir.
More susceptible fabrics are more likely to decay during washing, such as silk or synthetic sateens, and can not be sanitized thoroughly. So you must drop the silk face masks and use other materials.
Do Laundry Machines Kill Coronavirus?
Washing your clothes at a warm temperature in a laundry machine with detergent will destroy the coronavirus. According to a face mask information sheet on the CDC website, washing with water and mild detergent and then drying on a high setting will get the mask clean and ready for reuse.
According to the CDC, water in washing machines should exceed the recommended heat criteria for killing viruses (167F/75C), but detergents, washing soap, and even hand soap are good enough for hand washers who do not have access to a washer and dryer to fight flu viruses.
Will Hand-Washing Masks Kill the Virus?
Cloth surface transmission remains minimal, but it is advised to use gloves when handling dirty, infected laundry. Wash your hands after each load, and refrain from touching your face to avoid any risk of infection.
With lots of alternate options, those wary of hand-washing have taken to the internet, but what you see working in hospitals does not necessarily work with consumer appliances in our households. NYC Health Department spokesman Patrick Gallahue points to recommendations for coronavirus sanitization.
“By washing by hand or using a washing machine using standard laundry detergent, fabric face masks can be easily washed and sanitized. Be sure that the face-covering is dried before use,” Gallahue said.
According to the NYC Health Dept. recommendations, people can have at least two fabric face masks on hand to wash used masks at least once a day and use the other one for another errand.
Can I Use Bleach on Face Mask?
Although bleach can be perfect for sanitizing hard surfaces or washing towels and bedding, bleach is not a suggested cleaning agent for face masks, even in a diluted solution.
“On a face covering, chlorine or other chemical washing solutions could not be used since it can be inhaled, which may cause health concerns,” Gallahue said.
Can I Microwave Face Masks?
Although microwaves can sanitize your face masks, the form of microwave equipment used in hospitals for sanitizing equipment is better and more reliable than your model at home. In an even distribution of rays, modern microwaves are definitely getting stronger, but we can’t be sure that they reach the fabric uniformly at the proper heat and wattage necessary.
If there was some metal in your face mask, such as the flexible stripes at the nose bridge, you can’t place them in your microwave for a fire hazard.
Leave the experts with the microwaves and UV lamps. Detergent is also the best way to guarantee you remove any of the infection when it comes to face masks and other coverings that contact your nose, eyes, and mouth.
Cleaning cloth face masks are very effective in saving more masks for other people. As surgical masks and N95 masks are very limited and are only for healthcare staff. With the effective guide on cleaning mentioned above, you can keep your cloth masks clean and use it every day to protect yourself from the virus.
Louie is the father behind the travel blog Browseeverywhere.com. He has a background in photography, E-commerce, and writing product reviews online at ConsumerReviews24. Traveling full time with his family was his ultimate past-time. If he’s not typing at his laptop, you can probably find him watching movies.