Tips on how to clean cloth face mask

Posted at 1:42 PM, Sep 21, 2020

This is the cloth mask cleaning recipe recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Either throw the mask in your washing machine using the warm water setting and dry it on high heat. Or hand wash it using one-third cup of bleach per gallon of lukewarm water. Let it sit for five minutes, rinse, then fully air dry.

Mike Christman is a respiratory therapy instructor at Milwaukee Area Technical College.

"I've seen people walking about in the stores with visible stains on the mask that tells you A. It hasn't been washed and B. It's probably trapping a lot of bacterial or virus material you probably don't want on the mask," Christman said.

Christman knows a thing or two about face masks and the protection they provide. At the start of the pandemic, he was in New York City helping treat COVID-19 patients.

"What gets on it? What is it besides our own sweat or maybe our own saliva?" Consumer Investigator Kristin Byrne asked Christman.

"What they are finding is on a lot of the exterior part of the mask, on the outside part of the mask, anything that you are ventilating through that is kind of stuck and contained on that mask. So pollen, dust, dust mites they're finding," Christman continued.

The worst-case scenario would be coronavirus.

While the CDC recommends you wash your cloth mask regularly, other experts recommend washing them every day.

In our TMJ4 News twitter poll, if they wash their cloth masks every day. Out of nearly 600 votes, 27 percent said yes and 73 percent said no.

Washing schedule aside, Christman says people need to pay attention to how they're cleaning. He said people need to be conscious of what part of the mask they touch.

"You want to be careful as you remove the mask in case you did come into contact with someone that is COVID positive that you don't touch the exterior of the mask and then touch your nose and mouth before washing your hands," he explained.

So, Christman explained you should only touch the ear loops or mask ties when you remove it from your face for cleaning.

And another tip -- if you wash your mask in your washing machine, you can use one of these mesh bags to prevent your mask from getting tangled with other pieces of laundry. Some masks come with care instructions so follow those to get the longest use.

This story was first reported by Kristin Byrne at TMJ4 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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