How to wash your face mask

It’s all very well wearing your mask, but it won’t do anything to help us if we don’t disinfect them between uses. If you wear a mask that has not been fully disinfected, you risk inhaling the virus and becoming infected. In this blog I would like to share with you several different ways to disinfect your face mask or face covering.

The advice in Germany is to wash your mask at 60-90°C in your washing machine, 30 minutes in the oven at 70°C (keep an eye on your mask, results may vary with oven type), then use the iron at it’s hottest setting. Not all of these steps may be necessary, but each is effective on it’s own too. The high temperatures destroy the structure of the virus so it cannot function properly, and putting the mask through three cycles of high temperatures ensures that the mask is sterilised. Temperatures of 65° and above are effective at killing coronavirus.

In the washing machine phase, you should use your usual washing detergents, because in some machines the hottest temperature may not be effective enough. The mechanical action of the machine helps to work in the detergent which breaks up the protective lipid layer in the outside of the virus, meaning the virus cannot function any longer.

A quicker and possibly easier option on a day-to-day basis is to boil your mask in water. This can easily be done on your hob, just fill a pan with water and turn the heat up high until the water boils. That is it. Super easy, super fast. With this method you don’t have to justify doing a laundry load multiple times a week, and requires very little effort on your part.

Alternatively, you can hand wash your mask with soap and hot water. We use soap to wash our hands to reduce hand to face contamination, and soap does the exact same thing with the mask. If you use this method, you need to ensure you are being thorough. Circular movements and scrubbing will help to work the soap into the fabric.

My favourite method for cleaning my mask is to use a hot iron with steam, particularly when I’ve only worn my mask for a short amount of time. All the heating and boiling of the mask can seem excessive when you’ve only worn your mask for a walk down the street where you barely saw anyone, the high temperature of the iron and the steam is a quick and easy way to reduce risk of contamination.

With all of these different methods, hopefully one of these will work for you. Perhaps try different combinations to see what brings the best results? Stay safe, and disinfect your mask!

Disclaimer: I am by no means an expert in virology, nor do I have the ability to run lab-level tests to see which of these methods is in fact most effective. I collected this data from reliable scientific sources, and I hope it can be of help to you.

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