Here’s how to properly clean your face mask

Coronavirus Updates

How to clean your face covering

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – If you’ve recently walked into a grocery store or pulled into a drive-thru at your favorite food establishment, more than likely you’re seeing those employees wearing a face covering. With Governor Gary Herbert’s recent announcement of the “Mask for every Utahn” program in efforts to fight coronavirus, as well as most employers requiring staff to wear a mask, more and more citizens are feeling encouraged to sport the face coverings. A face mask can limit the spread of germs transferring from the mask wearer to others by helping to block droplets when the individual coughs or sneezes.

Related: Follow Along: Behind the scenes look at Utah’s PPE storage

But what’s the best way to clean a face covering, and how often should you clean it?

While the N-95 respirator and most clinical masks are designated for frontline health workers, the Centers for Disease Control (C-D-C) says a cloth or homemade face covering is just as effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in a community, while remaining socially distanced.

Nicholas Rupp, communications and Public Relations manager at Salt Lake County Health department tells ABC4 ” any fabric face covering should be washed regularly after frequent use.” In regards to employees required to wear a face mask for the duration of their shift should wash their covering each day, “it’s part of their work uniform, so it should be cleaned as such” says Rupp.

This April 3, 2020 selfie photo provided by Coty George shows George in Waianae, Hawaii, wearing a green cloth mask with yellow and orange puakenikeni flowers made by the Hawaii designer Air South. Face masks made with the same colorful prints used for aloha shirts are the latest fashion trend in Hawaii as islanders try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (Coty George via AP)

Best practices for cleaning a face covering:

  • Can I clean my fabric face mask in a washing machine? Yes, washing after frequent use (typically at the end of each day) with regular laundry is acceptable.
  • Can I use normal detergent? Yes, because soap and water are effective at killing coronaviruses simply washing the face covering with normal laundry detergent along with warm water after each use is recommended.
  • Can I put my face mask in the dryer? Depending on the material, a homemade fabric or purchased covering should be fine to put in the dryer along with normal laundry. For any other material it’s best to refer the specific cleaning instructions.
  • What about a disposable (or paper) mask? It’s not recommended to wear a disposable mask more than once. However, in a case where it’s all an individual has for a face covering which is better than nothing and it is not recommended to clean them after each use.
  • Can I spray the mask with lysol and let it dry? No, because the mask is worn on your face it is not safe to breathe any type of disinfectant spray.
FILE – In this Feb. 7, 2020 file photo, workers pack surgical masks at a factory in Suining city in southwest China’s Sichuan province. China won’t restrict exports of medical goods needed to fight the coronavirus pandemic, a government spokesman said Thursday, April 16, 2020, amid global tension over scarce masks and ventilators. (Chinatopix via AP, File)

Related: Do I need to clean items I bought from the grocery store?

The Salt Lake County Health Department recommends wearing a fabric or cloth face covering if possible as oppose to reusing a disposable mask.

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For tips on how to make your own face mask: Utahns embrace DIY culture in response to COVID-19 pandemic

If you’re donated a face covering, it is also recommended to clean and sterilize the mask before wearing it. This can be done with soap and hot water or disinfect it by soaking for 5 minutes in water and 2 teaspoons of bleach.

Related: Local bar creates facemasks holders for first responders

And as always make sure to wash your hands after cleaning your face covering in addition to wearing a face covering and constant practice of social distancing.

Related: Here’s how to wash your hands properly

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