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If you’re following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC's) guidelines on face masks amid the coronavirus epidemic in the U.S., you likely already know to wear either a homemade mask, bandana or some other cloth face covering when running essential errands, namely as a way to protect others from developing a COVID-19 infection.
But equally as important as wearing a face covering is cleaning it properly after you’re back home. To make sure you’re following protocol as recommended by infectious disease and other medical specialists across the nation, read on for a look at some of the tips below.
The first and most obvious method of cleaning a facial covering is by throwing it in a washing machine.
“A washing machine should suffice in properly washing a face covering,” says the CDC, noting the mask should be “routinely washed depending on the frequency of use.”
Viruses on clothes and fabrics are typically inactivated when washed in water at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, as per the World Health Organization's (WHO's) guidelines. But most at-home water heaters only reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This means it is extra important to use detergent, as well as chlorine or color-safe bleach to help decontaminate the fabric as best as possible, according to Popular Science.
Then, after washing, make sure to dry to mask at high heat in the dryer.
Placing the face mask in boiling water is also an option, namely if a washing machine is not available.
“Use a large pot and enough water to make sure it doesn’t all evaporate away. Leave the mask in the water for several minutes and swirl it around occasionally with tongs,” explained Digital Trends.
Ironing the face mask at high heat can also be helpful when attempting to disinfect it, Dimitar Marinov, an assistant professor in the department of hygiene at the Medical University of Varna, told the Huffington Post.
Hand washing the mask is also a possibility. Lather the fabric with hot water and soap and scrub it vigorously for at least 20 seconds, and use hot air to dry it.