Here's How You Can Properly Wash Fabric Face Masks

Use warm water!
PHOTO: istockphoto

Amid the enhanced community quarantine, individuals are now required to wear a face mask when heading out to buy essential items. This guideline was previously imposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases. 

While surgical masks and N95 respirators should be saved for frontliners and people who are sick, a DIY cloth mask or a handkerchief will do, according to the IATF. What's important is the wearer has something to cover his or her mouth and nose. 

Wearing a fabric mask isn't foolproof protection against COVID-19, but doing so can help reduce the transmission of the disease, especially for people who may have the virus but aren't showing any symptoms. "Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure," notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.)

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How to Make Your own Face Covering

While medical-grade masks are meant to be disposed of after every use, how does one properly wash a fabric mask? 

Ideally, homemade cloth masks should be washed after every use. That said, it's best to have a couple of fabric masks to keep in rotation. According to the CDC, "A washing machine should suffice in properly washing a cloth face covering." If possible, use the warmest appropriate water setting. Some experts also suggest using laundry detergents that contain bleach to effectively kill any germs.

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If you'll be washing it by hand, you can lather the masks with soap and scrub them for at least 20 seconds with warm to hot water, as suggested by board-certified dermatologist Emily de Golian in a feature on Huffington Post

Before you wash your face masks, though, be mindful of how you take them off. Carefully remove it by the straps, and avoid touching the front of the mask. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water after doing so. 

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