Now that non-medical face coverings are mandatory in shops and supermarkets – as well as on public transport - in England and Scotland chances are you have a selection of reusable, washable face masks and you probably don’t leave home without one. But when the time comes to clean them, are you washing them correctly?
Just as you regularly wash your clothes, you need to wash your face coverings, to stop them from getting contaminated. And if you’re not washing your mask, the contamination could spread to whatever you leave it with every time you take it off. As well as the risk of spreading COVID-19 you could also end up with skin problems from dirt and bacteria transferring from your mask to the delicate skin on your face.
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So what’s the best way to go about it? We spoke to cleaning and laundry expert, Deyan Dimitrov, CEO of dry cleaning and laundry service Laundryheap to get some practical tips on how to properly wash your mask to ensure you steer clear from blemishes, how to handwash your mask and how to store your face covering when you aren't using it. ***Scroll down for the best washable, reusable face masks.
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How often should I wash my face mask?
Medical experts – including John Hopkins Medicine – say that you should wash your mask after every use. Deyan agrees. "If you buy or make your own cloth face mask, it’s wise to clean it regularly, he tells us. "Even though the face mask’s purpose is to protect others from yourself, your fabric face mask still needs washing. If you don’t wash it, you risk germs and bacteria harbouring on the face mask, which could cause you to become ill or cause blemishes on areas where your mask rests on your face."
What’s the best way to wash my face covering? Do I need to wash it separately?
"The best way to wash your face mask is to pop it in the washing machine and add some fabric-safe disinfectant to the rinse compartment of your washing machine," says Deyan. "You should do this every time you wear it, just to keep safe. It’s fine to throw it in with other similar colours, so don’t worry about washing it on its own."
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Can I hand wash my face mask?
“If you don’t have the time for a machine wash in the evening, then you can easily handwash your mask. Fill up a clean basin with hot water and some detergent and begin to scrub the mask. Have the water as hot as you can and be sure to scrub the mask well for five minutes. Then rinse the mask with cold water and leave to dry completely.”
How should I store my face mask when I’m not using it?
Leaving your mask in the bottom of your handbag so you don’t forget it may seem like a good idea, but think again. Deyan explains: "If you take your mask off for whatever reason, make sure to store it properly until you get home to wash it. Leaving your mask loosely in your handbag could transfer germs to other items in your handbag and vice versa. Keep a small disposable bag inside your bag or pocket that you can keep the mask in until it’s time to wash it. If you take your mask off, don’t put it back on until after you’ve washed it."
How many face masks should I buy?
Definitely more than one, says Deyan. "Having two face masks means that you will always have one spare when the other’s in the wash, so it’s worth investing in a two-pack. Many fashion retailers now sell non-surgical masks so you can easily pick some up."
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Best reusable washable face masks you can buy online
Marks & Spencer have launched face masks in packs of five. Each comes with an antibacterial coating to keep them fresher for longer and can be washed up to 40 times.
5 pack adjustable and reusable adults face masks, £9.50, Marks & Spencer
Pacamask’s 5 star rated antibacterial face mask is good for 50 washes. It’s Made with a superior polyester cotton antibacterial Silver Ion fabric, which kills 99% of bacteria. Adult and child sizes are available and the adjustable elastic ear loops ensure a good snug fit
Antibacterial face mask available in 6 colours, £17.95, Pacamask
It’s one of the most stylish masks on the market and Boden’s three-layer, non-medical face covering is machine washable up to 60ºC. A pack of three is a great idea then you have one to wash, one to wear and one spare.
Non-medical face-covering 3 pack, £20, Boden
These extra comfy eco-friendly face masks are made from organic cotton and are available in three in three different sizes and a variety of colours. They can be washed up to 30 times and cost £13.65 for a bundle of three masks.
Supreme face cover three-pack, 13.65, Isko Vital
For kids, River Island’s reusable, machine washable masks are a great option and there’s next day delivery available. There’s also a more neutral colour set available if pink’s not your little one’s thing.
Pink camo face coverings three-pack, £18, River Island
These triple-layer face masks are both pretty and practical and are available in a number of gorgeous Liberty prints. They also come with a free filter. You can even buy a case to store your mask safely when it’s not in use. Hand or machine wash up to 60ºC
Liberty face mask with free filter, £14.95, Etsy
This three-pack of masks from Adidas is perfect for sports fans who want to exercise on a daily basis. These contoured, reusable masks are washable up to 60ºC.
Face covers 3 pack, £14.95, Adidas
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