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How To Wash Homemade Cloth Face Masks

A cycle in your washing machine should get the job done.

As more Canadians turn to homemade face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 when social distancing can’t be maintained, using them correctly has become a hot topic. From taking them off to crafting snug-fitting masks (even without sewing skills), there’s a lot to consider to make using them as effective as possible. But once they’ve served their purpose for the occasional visit outside, how do we clean them for future use?

Watch the video above to find out the best methods for sanitizing non-medical reusable masks made of fabric — of course, disposable masks should be thrown away after one use.

Is it safe to put masks in the washing machine?

Yes and in fact, Health Canada would prefer that you did. The agency recommends running a washing machine on a hot cycle to properly sanitize your mask.

Will washing by hand be effective?

Experts told New York Times that hand-washing masks in a sink works gets the job done. Hand-laundering should involve lathering and scrubbing for 20 seconds, dermatologist Emily de Golian told HuffPost.

Can I use regular soap?

Regular laundry soap or detergent is fine, but the extra cautious may want to use one with anti-microbial ingredients, Robert Amler, a former CDC health officer advised HuffPost.

You can cross-check your detergent’s ingredients with a list of disinfectants approved by Health Canada, as well as a list of virus-fighting products by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

How hot does water need to be to kill coronavirus?

There isn’t enough data for a definitive answer, but the World Health Organization states that viruses in the same family as COVID-19 couldn’t survive heat as high as 56 degrees Celsius, applied constantly for 15 minutes.

There are non-laundry ways to sanitize masks too. Hygiene expert Dimitar Marinov told HuffPost that masks can be ironed or heated in an oven for 20 minutes at 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Is it safe to use my kitchen appliances?

Unless you want to trigger the smoke alarm, resist the urge to nuke your mask in the microwave. Snopes debunked reports that a microwave could sanitize face gear, as should be this ‘but’? it’s far more likely the fabric would catch fire instead.

While a dishwasher might be convenient, they risk malfunctioning because of a tangled mask, Digital Trends warns. Dishwashers may not get hot enough or have the scrubbing motions needed to completely clean your mask.

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