Washing your face masks the right way is essential
Have you washed your face masks yet? If not, it's time.
Face mask mandates are likely to stick around for a while, so it's a good idea to build a little collection of reusable masks. You can find masks in a variety of colors, sizes, and materials online. My personal favorite is a mask made from yoga pant material because it breathes and is built to handle moisture. The masks pictured above are offered through Onzie, which uses recycled materials, but many exercise apparel companies are now making masks.
What is your mask made of?
Anything that touches your face should be kept clean. An unwashed mask can quickly start to harbor germs and make your skin breakout. This situation can become amplified if you are spending many hours in a mask or are exercising and sweating regularly in a mask.
In short, you need to wash your masks. But how you wash them might depend on what they are made of.
If you bought your mask from a retailer, check to see if it comes with washing instructions. For a homemade mask, consider what materials you used. This can vary widely from cotton to polyester to elastic. Some materials can handle going in the washing machine with your regular laundry, but others simply can't.
Wash masks gently
Whatever you do, you don't want to damage the integrity of the mask material. The entire point of the mask is to filter germs, and degrading the material reduces the likelihood your mask will get that job done properly. Even if you can't see the damage, the material might be thinner or more porous from constant harsh washing.
Always wash your masks gently. You can hand wash them with a little soap and water in the sink. Ensure they soak for at least a few minutes and rinse them very well with cold water after. You can let them air dry if you live in a low-humidity climate. For high-humidity, it's best to toss the wet masks into the drier for a few minutes. This helps prevent mold growth.
Avoid harsh chemicals
The key to washing your face masks is really to avoid harsh chemicals. As mentioned above, you don't want to damage the integrity of the material. You also don't want to put something washed with harsh chemicals against your facial skin and orifices. These chemicals can easily get absorbed into your body through your skin and mucous membranes.
Particular no-nos include cleaning your face masks with hand sanitizer, spraying your masks with Clorox, and not washing your masks for long periods of time.
Gently cleaning your masks as frequently as once per week is a good idea. If you wear your mask a lot, you might want to rotate daily and wash twice per week. Replace your mask right away if you notice the fabric deteriorating. Cotton masks are likely to need replacing faster than synthetic masks.
Buy quality masks
Well-made masks will last longer. So many companies are selling masks now, you don't have to rely on a handkerchief tied behind your head.
I personally like the masks from Onzie because they are made from recycled materials and they fit my face well, which can be a challenge because I have a small face. They also make sizes for small children.
Adore Me is currently offering a free face mask with store purchases over $70. These masks run a bit larger in size, but the material is great.
Athleta is selling packs of masks. These are a bit more adjustable, so you can move and exercise without worrying your mask will fall off.
I also like masks from Bamboo is Better because they are made from bamboo, which is a sustainable material. This is a great example of a material you want to wash by hand.