With the current spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), many people are wearing face masks to protect themselves and the people around them. Whilst wearing a face mask does not substitute social distancing regulations, this extra layer of precaution can be helpful for some, especially if you are looking after someone who is sick, or you are showing symptoms yourself. The UK Government has made face coverings on public transport mandatory, however they do suggest wearing a face covering if you're in a place where social distancing isn't possible.
If you are wearing a mask as protection against COVID-19 or to protect others, it is important to know how to clean and dispose of your face mask properly.
Can I reuse face masks?
When it comes to single-use face masks, such as paper, they should be disposed of immediately after use (preferably in a plastic bag and closed bin) and replaced with a new one. If this isn’t possible, leave the mask in a safe place for three to five days to allow any germs to die before reusing.
Masks which are made from cloth should be routinely washed after every use. Make sure you do not share masks with any other person in your family, even if you are washing them.
You will need:
- Large bowl / Sink
- Bleach based laundry detergent
- Washing up gloves
How to wash a face mask
A standard wash cycle of 60 degrees is recommended when sanitising fabrics, however for an effective deep clean, we suggest pre-treating face masks by hand before a regular wash to proper sanitise the mask.
To pre-wash, fill a bowl with hot water and soap. Add the face mask on its own and start hand washing for around five minutes. Follow our hand-washing tips for the most effective clean. Make sure to use protective washing up gloves when doing this.
Once the mask has been properly pre-washed, put it in the washing machine. You can wash the mask with other items.
The NHS recommends using a bleach-based laundry detergent when washing items that could be infected. Be careful when using this when washing with other items as bleach can fade or discolour clothes.
Remove the mask and leave to dry in a safe, clean place (such as a cupboard) and only use once fully dry. A top tip is to use a tumble dryer on a high heat to make sure the germs have been killed. If you do not have access to one, ironing the mask on a high heat is a good extra measure.
It is important to remove a face mask from the ears rather than touching the mask itself, as this is a way COVID-19 can spread to your hands. Always wash your hands before touching a mask and after removing it, it's important to keep up personal hygiene practices to avoid risk of infection.
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Disclaimer: The information in this article is accurate at the time of publishing. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it’s possible that some guidance may have changed since publication. While Cleanipedia is trying to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations by using GOV UK and NHS.