Cleaning Your Cloth Covid-19 Masks

Face coverings here in Ireland, such as cloth masks, are now mandatory for everyone in certain situations, including on public transport and in all retail outlets.

Face MasksPhoto: G. Willoughby

As we have now become aware, wearing a face covering helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 by providing a physical barrier.
[This said, such face coverings, I hasten to add, do not replace the need to keep up hand hygiene, physical distancing and staying at home and calling our GP for advice, if we feel unwell.]

Washing Of Face Covering

It is essential that face covering be washed properly, for the simple reason that if you come into contact with any infected person while wearing your mask, virus particles could land on your mask’s front surface, thus contaminating it. It follows therefore that if you don’t handle and wash your mask correctly, you could infect yourself or indeed others by touching the contaminated outer surface.

Cloth masks needs/must be cleaned after every single use, remembering that if you are using a surgical or medical mask, these are for single-use only and should never be laundered, or indeed reused.

Any mask used in public may be contaminated, so avoid touching the front of it, when taking it off. Instead, use the ties or ear loops to remove same, before storing it in a zip-lock plastic bag ready for the wash. Always wash your hands well immediately after handling.

Washing cloth masks is an easy task. You simply add them to your normal laundry wash, making sure to use the warmest temperature setting on your washing machine, that your clothing load can handle.

Disinfectant is not required to add to your wash, but you should use a non-scented detergent, especially if you are sensitive to the smell that will remain on your cloth mask, if a scented detergent is used.

If, like many households, you have a particular wash day each week, and want to wash your cloth mask by hand, use any available container filled with hot water and a detergent, allowing the cloth mask to soak before giving it a hand wash and rinse.

But again, best practise dictates that you wash your hands after handling your mask.

Your cloth mask must be dry before you use it again, and best to dry it flat so that it continues to retain its natural designed shape.

The life span of a cloth mask is different to determine, since you may have purchased one from your local supplier or manufactured one yourself. Either way if it doesn’t fit snugly on your face or has lost its shape same will indicate when it is time to replace it.

When putting on a mask, make sure it covers your mouth and nose. Do not wear a mask slung under your chin, or have your nose protruding over the top and avoid excessive touching of the frontal surface area.

As already stated, face coverings do not replace the need to keep up our hand hygiene, physical distancing and staying at home and calling our GP for advice, if we feel unwell.


1 comment to Cleaning Your Cloth Covid-19 Masks

  • Dennis

    This should be compulsory reading……. so many people are not using their masks correctly – while some have become a little slack in their daily routine (some of this may be sheer fatigue) – while some still need to be convinced/educated………. whatever, thanks for this submission

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