With the mandatory wearing of face masks and coverings in shops and supermarkets already in force in a number of countries, and coming into force in England on the 24th of July, it's impossible to leave the house without at least a couple of clean face masks tucked away in your handbag.
With the increased wearing of face masks, so too is the requirement for washing them. With so much information available in terms of what temperature to wash at, whether to machine or hand wash and even how to treat and wash different fabrics, it can all be a bit overwhelming.
We've therefore done all the homework for you and have put together a little guide on how to effectively wash your reusable face masks.
Should I Machine Wash My Face Masks at 60 Degrees Celcius?
Anything above 60 degrees Celcius does seem to be the advised temperature that kills viruses, hence it's advisable to also wash bedsheets, tea towels, children's clothes etc in a 60 degree wash. In addition to this, detergents with bleach-like compounds should be used rather than standard detergents, as they kill microbes more effectively.
However, we all know it isn't always possible (or even recommended from an environmental perspective!) to wash on 60 degrees with special detergents and so there's also a lot of advice and information on how to effectively hand-wash fabric face masks, taking into account the material that it's made of, such as whether it's cotton, silk, linen, hemp, etc. And, because it's a hand-wash, the temperature of the water will be warm rather than hot.
So the short answer is no, you don't need to wash your face masks at 60 degrees Celcius.
So What Temperature Should I Wash My Face Masks On?
The Government website, gov.uk, advises to follow the washing instructions for the specific fabric. It goes on to say that you can wash it with your normal laundry and use your normal detergent. It doesn't stipulate washing at 60 degrees. So, if you do your normal laundry at 30 or 40 degrees Celcius, then you should be ok to wash your face masks in the same machine wash.
For our cotton face masks, we recommend washing the mask and its little pouch with your normal laundry and to wash similar colours together.
For our silk face masks, we recommend hand washing or putting on a silks and delicates cycle, using a detergent specifically advised for silk materials.
I Prefer to Hand-Wash All My Face Masks. Is That OK?
Yes, that's OK. There's also a lot of information about how to effectively hand-wash your masks. You can fill a basin with warm, soapy water and then scrub your mask clean.
If you're hand-washing silk masks, then just be sure to use a silk-friendly detergent.
How Often Should I Wash My Face Masks?
We have been told time and time again to regularly wash our hands using warm water and soap. In much the same way, we also need to regularly wash our face masks, which means preferably after every outing.
Regularly washing your face mask with warm water and soap is far more effective than putting it on a hot wash once in a while. If you regurlarly wash and clean your masks and change them frequently, then this is far more effective in helping to protect you and others around you.
Can I Air Dry My Face Mask?
Yes of course. Just pull and reshape it flat when wet. Yes, the hot air from a tumble dryer is thought to help kill off unwanted germs but as like above, it may not be possible to use a tumble dryer and many households don't actually have one.
If you use a tumble dryer, just take caution that the fabric of the face mask will be able to withstand the high heat. Cotton is generally OK, but we would recommend avoiding the tumble dryer for silk, linen and more delicate materials, as they can't withstand the high heat.
Can I Iron My Face Mask After Washing?
Ironing is a great way to get all the wrinkles out and ensure you have a nicely pressed face mask. If you're ironing silk, just make sure you've got the iron on the silk setting.
In addition to getting your face mask wrinkle free, ironing also helps to eliminate unwanted germs, bacteria and viruses because of the heat, especially if steam ironing.
So there we go! A handy little summary of how to effectively wash your reusable face masks. Just like how we must all regularly wash our hands using warm water and soap, the same applies to your face masks. Change them frequently and ensure that they are washed regularly using soap and warm water.