A cloth mask, you’re now encouraged not to leave home without one. In fact, they protect others from your germs, slowing the spread of illness. When you breathe in tiny germ particles, they enter your body then multiply. Unfortunately, you can be sick for days without knowing it, unintentionally spreading your germs to others. But a dirty mask can’t protect you, or anyone else – so follow the tips below to make sure your mask stays clean.
First things first, remember that N-95 respirator masks and disposable surgical masks need to be prioritized for hospitals and medical professionals. And children under the age of 2 should not wear masks at all.
Secondly, are you wearing and removing your cloth mask correctly? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), your cloth mask needs to:
- Cover your nose and mouth
- Fit snugly, without gaps
- Include multiple layers of fabric
- Allow for easy breathing
- Be machine washable in hot water and dryable on high heat
It’s also worth noting not all cloth is good at keeping germs from spreading. However, recent tests show cloth masks made with quilting fabric can perform as good as surgical masks. High-quality, tightly knit fabric with a high thread count of at least 180 threads per inch, works best.
How to Clean a Cloth Mask
It is recommended to wash and dry your mask on the “hot” setting to keep it clean. Generally washers reach 130 degrees on a hot water setting and 165 degrees on a sanitizing setting. Similarly, dryers reach 150 degrees. You can also disinfect the mask by adding bleach to the wash cycle. According to Clorox, ¾ cup of bleach is all you need for a regular size load.
Keep in mind some fabrics are not colorfast and will fade with bleach, while others, such as spandex, could be ruined.
Other ways to disinfect your cloth mask include:
- Oxygen bleach
- Pine oil (toxic to cats)
When to Clean a Cloth Mask
It’s ideal to wash your cloth mask after every use. Also be careful when removing your mask. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Most important, wash your hands thoroughly before putting on, and after removing, your mask.
Please bring your own mask when visiting any Renown Health location.
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Using a cloth face mask and regular handwashing aren’t the only things you need to stay healthy. Be sure to stay up to date on your yearly doctor visit and routine screenings.