How to Wash a Cloth Face Mask

Face coverings are increasingly becoming the new norm as Americans continue to venture out during the COVID-19 crisis.

While most of us are aware of the importance of hand-washing to reduce the risk of transferring bacteria, washing masks to keep them sanitary is just as critical. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers guidelines to effectively clean masks after wear. Before you start, keep in mind a few helpful tips:

  • These instructions do not apply to N95 or KN95 masks which are both mean to be disposable.
  • Store-bought masks will often come with washing instructions suitable to their fabric type. However, if you are making a mask on your own, check for fiber content, then search for the proper washing instructions that can be easily found online.
  • Always wash hands after handling a worn mask.

Throw Them in the Washing Machine

According to the CDC, cloth face coverings should be washed after each use. One way to do this is by throwing them in the machine using popular household detergents or more exclusive eco-friendly and hypoallergenic varieties. For maximum effectiveness, use the warmest appropriate machine water setting for the type of cloth used to make the face covering.

Tide Liquid Laundry Detergent

This popular supermarket detergent can handle up to 64 loads of laundry. It can be used for both traditional and HE (high efficiency) washing machines.

Watch on FN

laundry detergent, bleach, tide
Tide laundry detergent.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Amazon

Arm & Hammer 4-in-1 Laundry Detergent Power Paks

Arm & Hammer power packs dissolve quickly and get to work fighting off stains, odor and more.

laundry detergent, bleach, arm hammer
CREDIT: Courtesy of Amazon

All Liquid Free Clear Detergent for Sensitive Skin

Recommended for sensitive skin, it removes 99% of the top everyday and seasonal allergens such as dust mite matter and grass and tree pollen. It contains detergent for approximately 110 loads.

laundry detergent, bleach, all
CREDIT: Courtesy of Amazon

Tru Earth Eco-Strips Laundry Detergent Linen Scent

Gentle for sensitive skin, it is vegan friendly and paraben-free. It comes packaged with 32 individual sheets, with one strip sufficient for one load. It’s plastic-free packaging also reduces transportation fuel consumption.

laundry detergent, bleach, tru earth
CREDIT: Courtesy of Amazon

Hand Wash Them Using in Bleach & Water

Since masks need to be washed daily, hand washing may be more ecological and economical. The CDC recommends preparing a bleach solution of 1/3 cup household bleach per gallon of room temperature water, or four teaspoons household bleach per quart of room temperature water. Check to see if the bleach being used is meant for disinfection purposes since some color-safe or eco-friendly versions may not be suitable for disinfection. And, make sure bleach has not exceeded its expiration date.

Next, soak the face covering in the bleach solution for at least five minutes, then rinse thoroughly with cool or room temperature water since you do not want to inhale the smell of bleach. Air dry indoors or in direct sunlight. Or, use the highest heat setting and leave in the dryer until completely dry.

Clorox Splash-Less Liquid Bleach

The splash-less formula delivers a more controlled pour to protect clothes. It tackles stains including grass, dirt and blood. It can also be used on hard, non-porous household surfaces and items including countertops and floors.

laundry detergent, bleach, clorox
CREDIT: Courtesy of Amazon

GuardH Bleach Tablets — 40 Count

This easy-to-use multi-purpose bleach cleaner dissolves quickly and also works on tough stains.

laundry detergent, bleach, guardh
CREDIT: Courtesy of Amazon

EZ-X Clean Ultra Concentrated Bleach Tablets

These concentrated tablets are easy to handle and come with a 2-year shelf life. Its orange scent helps eliminate bad odors which can occur in washing machines.

laundry detergent, bleach, ez-x clean
CREDIT: Courtesy of Amazon

All products featured have been independently selected and curated by our editorial team. If you buy something through our retail links, we may earn commission and the retailer may receive certain auditable data for accounting purposes.

Access exclusive content