Since 2020, face masks have become a regular part of our lives. A high quality cloth face mask can be an alternative to a disposable mask–or a decorative second layer of protection on top of a medical mask–as long as it is cleaned regularly. Given that face masks can prevent the spread of illness, learning how to wash face masks is important. After wearing your face mask, make sure you give it the same TLC you would give any other piece of clothing in your closet.
It is important to always remove face coverings correctly and wash your hands after handling or touching a used face covering. Once your mask is off and your hands are clean, it’s time for washing face masks!
How to Wash Face Masks
To make it easy for you, here is a handy guide for 3 ways to effectively wash face masks. Before deciding which method to use, be sure to check the material of your mask and any washing instructions that may have come with it. Certain fabrics are suitable for bleaching, while others may benefit from a gentler wash. Regardless of fabric, our three guides to washing face masks should get your PPE clean in no time.
Hand Washing with Bleach
Hand washing masks with bleach can be a great way to disinfect your cloth face covering.
- Fill a clean sink or basin with hot water. Be sure to fill the basin before adding the masks, as running water onto cloth can cause the fabric to stretch.
- Soak the mask in a bleach solution (1/3 cup bleach per gallon of water) for 5 minutes.
- Wash the mask in hot water with a gentle detergent, like our Sensitive Skin Laundry Detergent.
- Rinse the mask thoroughly in warm water.
- Allow the mask to dry completely before next use.
Hand Washing Without Bleach
Hand washing masks may sound complicated, but it’s just as easy as hand washing any other garment!
- Fill a clean basin or sink with hot water.
- Add two pumps of Dropps Ultra Concentrated Laundry Detergent to the water. Our Sensitive Skin Detergent is hypoallergenic, non-irritating, and safe for all fabrics (and your skin).
- Place the masks in the soapy water, and let them sit for 3-5 minutes.
- Gently move the masks around in the water with your hands.
- Drain the sink or bucket and rinse the masks in clean warm water to rinse out all of the detergent.
- Squeeze the masks to release any excess water.
- Hang the masks to dry completely before next use.
Add your cloth masks to your regular laundry routine to save yourself time and energy.
- Place the face masks into the washing machine. Face masks can be washed with your regular laundry, which saves water and energy.
- Add a Dropps Laundry pod to the drum of the machine, behind and underneath your laundry.
- Start the cycle. The CDC recommends using the warmest appropriate water setting to kill germs.
- Dry the masks in the dryer at the highest appropriate heat or hang them to dry in direct sunlight. Make sure they are completely dry before next use.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have more questions about how to wash face masks? We have answers!
What is the best way to wash off a face mask?
There is not one best way to wash masks. According to the CDC, hand washing face masks and washing them in a washing machine are both excellent options. The most important thing is to make sure the mask is washed regularly and fully dried before wearing. Be sure to wash your mask regularly and use a high quality laundry detergent!
Can I use dish soap to wash my mask?
While it is recommended that you wash cloth face masks with laundry detergent, you can use dish soap in a pinch! While dish soap can clean your mask effectively, it is not formulated to be gentle on skin, so if you do find yourself in this situation, be sure to use a gentle dish detergent and make sure to rinse the mask well.
Is there a way to wash disposable masks?
It is not recommended to wash disposable medical masks, as the material begins to degrade when wet. However, it is not necessary to throw out a disposable mask after each use. Having several disposable masks that you wear in a rotation is perfectly acceptable and safe–and keeps extra masks out of the landfill.
Can you wash and reuse a KN95 mask?
N95s and KN95s are commonly regarded to be the most effective face masks. KN95s are disposable, but throwing masks out after each use can be both expensive and unsustainable. In the early days of the pandemic, healthcare workers rotated used masks in brown paper bags. This strategy–or a variation of it–can still be used today. After wearing a KN95, remove it safely and put it in a brown paper bag or other safe place for several days. The coronavirus has an expected survival time of 72 hours, so after a few days your mask should be safe to wear again. It is not recommended to wash KN95s, as the material begins to degrade when wet.