How to clean a cloth mask

Kristen Fischer interviewed Catherine Clase for verywellhealth. Read the interview here.

Wash your cloth mask frequently, and at least between each use, and change it  as soon as it becomes damp or soiled. Cloth masks can be  laundered in a washing machine, provided the fabric you have used is suitable for machine washing. If you are hand washing, use warm water and soap or detergent (e.g., clothes-washing liquid or dish-washing liquid), increase the exposure to detergent and heat by leaving it to soak in hot soapy water. Rinse the mask thoroughly before drying.

Masks that contain non-woven industry-grade spunbond polypropylene or rectangles of this material used as filters can be hot washed with detergent in a washing machine. You can wash the filter right in the mask, though it may become separated in the wash. Reshape masks when damp and hang to dry. These materials should not be tumble dried or ironed. They are plastic and will melt.

If possible use a mesh bag to protect the mask in the washing machine, handle carefully at all times and check that the shape is retained following washing. Be especially gentle with masks including nose wires. Masks should be designed so these can easily be replaced. Do not microwave masks containing metal.

Elastic bands can be washed in the bag with masks.  They will deteriorate with multiple washes, but are easily replaced.  If preferred, they can be handwashed with soap and warm water, and will likely last longer.

More plain-language advice from our group on washing is available here.

1. CDC advice on cloth face coverings, here.

2. Government of Canada advice on cloth face coverings, here.