When and how to clean your cloth face mask

Published: May. 26, 2020 at 9:38 PM CDT
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Health officials are advising people to wear face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic in hopes of preventing the spread of illnesses that you may have, but they warn that an important part of making sure the mask does its job is keeping it clean.

“We don’t know what’s getting on the outside of the mask,” said Hunter Hubrig, EP Environmental Health Practitioner at Fargo Cass Public Health. “We don’t know, throughout the day, how often we are touching the mask and we don’t know what we are carrying. So that’s the importance of going through each day and making sure it’s getting washed so we get rid of whatever could be on the outside of that mask as we wear it. ”

The CDC says you should be washing your mask after every use, which for many people is daily.

It’s as simple as throwing it in the washing machine.

“That can just be detergent along with, they recommend warm water,” Hubrig said. “If a washing machine is not available, you can wash it, handwashing it, and with that we can use bleach. We always make the note make sure you’re not mixing with other chemicals especially ammonia.”

It’s recommended that you use one gallon of room temperature water, then add five tablespoons of bleach or ⅓ cup. Once those are mixed together, add your face mask and let it soak for five minutes.

After the time is up, rinse with cool or room temperature water and make sure the mask is completely dry before using it again.

When you aren’t using your mask, store it in a dry, breathable place.

“We just don’t want it to be in a place where it can get crushed throughout the day where it can maybe break down the integrity of the mask,” Hubrig said. “We don’t want to put it somewhere, lets say a plastic bag, where moisture can grow on it, where we can see a variety of other things growing on it including mold.”

A paper bag is just one example of a good place to store your mask.

Health officials say the proper treatment of these cloth masks can help keep you and others healthy.

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