How to Wash a DIY Protective Face Mask
Wearing protective face masks in public is becoming an important part of reducing the spread of the coronavirus/COVID-19. The CDC is now recommending people wear a face mask every time they go out in public — to the grocery store, the pharmacy and anywhere else you need to go. Therefore, it makes sense to sew yourself a mask that can be washed and reused. We developed a reusable mask design that includes an opening between the two layers for inserting a filter to trap airborne particles (check out blog #300465XHT for the instructions). The filter should be thrown away after every public use and the mask immediately washed. Whether you made a mask using our design or another DIY version, this blog covers how to properly wash a reusable face mask and keep yourself protected while doing so.
The CDC recommends that you wear disposable nitrile gloves while handling possibly contaminated laundry articles. If you do not have gloves, wash your hands before and immediately after handling your face mask. Remove your face mask without touching the fabric or breathing surface areas. Remove and discard the disposable filter layer. If your face mask has a wire nosepiece, pinch the wire so it does not slip out of the sewn sleeve during washing. Make sure your wire piece is washable first.
Do not shake the mask before putting it in the washing machine. Shaking or agitating the mask can potentially disperse the virus through the air. Put the mask in the washing machine and add any other like-color items that need washed. It is recommended that you place the mask in a mesh bag for washing delicates. If you don't have a mesh bag, it's still okay to add other articles to the wash along with the mask.
The CDC states that you're allowed to wash other clothes and items with face masks because the detergent will kill the virus if it's on your face mask. Add your usual laundry detergent and set the washing machine on its hottest setting. Some clothes can't be washed on a hot setting so keep that in mind when adding other articles to be washed. You can add bleach to the wash if desired. Keep in mind that bleach will weaken the stitches in your face mask.
After washing, you can hang dry the mask in an area of your house where social distancing is easy. Keep the recommended 6-foot distance from the mask to reduce the chance of your clean mask becoming contaminated by an infected person or another infected surface. If you don't want to hang dry, you can put the mask in the dryer on a short cycle. Do not add fabric softener.
When you're ready to use the mask again, thoroughly wash your hands prior to handling the clean mask. Insert a new disposable filter layer. Put your mask on without touching the fabric or breathing surface areas. Once your mask is on and comfortably fitted, do not touch the mask until you are done with your public outing and are ready to take it off and wash it again.