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How to Wash a Fabric Face Mask

Already have your own fabric face mask? Learn how to best wash your mask to keep it effective!

By: MaryRose O'Donnell, Editor, AllFreeSewing.com
Updated June 01, 2020
How to Wash a Fabric Face Mask

As cities begin to open more and more it means you're going to be venturing outside of your home more and using your fabric face mask more regularly as well. However, if you're wearing your face mask more often you've probably begun to ask the important question of how do I wash my face mask? Or, how often do I need to wash my face mask?

Masks made of cloth should be cleaned, but the frequency depends on how often you wear the mask. If you only wear your face mask once a week then you need to wash it less than someone who has to go to work every day. There are no strict guidelines on how often, but if you wish to be extra cautious you can wash it after every use. In that situation it’s a great idea to have more than one mask so you can switch them out!

Once you’ve decided how often you’re going to wash your face mask read below to figure out the best way to do so!

Materials List

  1. Fabric Face Masks
  2. Heavy Duty Detergent
  3. Washer/Dryer (optional)
  4. Gloves (optional)
  5. Drying rack (optional)

How to Machine Wash a Face Mask

Using your washing machine is the simplest and the best way to wash your face mask. When you put your machine on high the temperature gets hot enough to reach levels where it can affect the virus. As a result it’s a great idea to wash in a machine and it won’t take extra time because you can do it with your regular clothes.

Wash masks in the washing machine

  1. Make sure to remove any filters you put in your mask and remove anything else detachable (such as elastics on no sew masks) so they do not get ruined or lost in the wash. Mesh laundry bags are also great for keeping your masks together.
  2. Set your washing machine to a warm setting so the hot water can work on anything on your masks.
  3. Use a heavy duty detergent to break down everything from soil, sweat, and any particles you came into contact with while outside.
  4. Use the dryer for a tumble dry on the highest heat. If you don’t have a dryer you can leave the mask in the sun to dry or use a hair dryer.

How to Hand Wash a Face Mask

If you choose to hand wash your masks (or need to as your mask is made of a more delicate material) don’t worry, it is very simple and easy to do while still being effective!
 

Hand wash your face masks

  1. Fill your sink with hot water, just as with the machine wash the high temperatures help with killing viruses. 
  2. Add one teaspoon of your heavy duty detergent to the water before you place the masks in.
  3. Put gloves on to protect your hands while washing.
  4. Scrub the mask for at least 20 seconds, just like if you’re washing your hands! Make sure to get all sides of your mask.
  5. Use warm or cool water to rinse the mask.
  6. If you have a dryer use tumble dry for it or you can leave it on a drying rack in the sun or use a hairdryer.

Washing Filters

Some face masks include space for filters which should, generally, not be wash with the rest of the mask. For example, coffee filters and other paper filters are intended for single use only and should not be washed. HVAC filters can be reused but become less effective over time and will likely degrade when washed so it's best to replace them as well. The best practice is to replace your filters so you don't compromise the effectiveness of your mask.

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