Shawn E. Ray, MPH, RS
Noble County Health Commissioner
Since the governor has mandated masks for all of Ohio to avoid the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, you might have bought or made face masks or coverings for yourself and your family. Not knowing what germs you have been in contact with or how long the germs have been active on the cloth fibers makes its crucial to regularly wash, sanitize and dry reusable face mask. Here are some tips on how to care for your cloth masks.
How many face masks do I need?
It’s a good idea to have at least two. This way, you will have a fresh mask if one is in the wash. You will want a clean mask whenever you go someplace where maintaining consistent physical distancing (at least 6 feet away from others) might be a challenge, including:
A trip to the grocery store.
A visit to your doctor.
Close interactions with others
When is it safe to take my mask off?
You can remove it outside, once you are away from others, or in your car on your way home. Don’t forget to bring your mask inside to be cleaned. If you wait to take your mask off until you have returned home, it may be easier to remember to clean it.
What’s the best way to take off a face mask?
Wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
Don’t touch the front of the mask or your face.
Carefully remove your mask by grasping the ear loops or untying the ties. For masks with a pair of ties, unfasten the bottom ones first, then the top ones.
If your mask has filters, remove them and throw them away. Fold the mask and put it directly into the laundry or into a disposable or washable bag for laundering.
Clean your hands again.
You should clean your mask after every wearing. This reduces the risk of spreading the coronavirus or other germs.
How do I clean my face mask?
Bandannas, face scarves and masks made of fabric, such as cotton, can be washed in your regular laundry using hot water.
Disposable, blue surgical masks cannot be laundered or cleaned and should be thrown away when it is visibly soiled or damaged.
After laundering your fabric masks, tumble dry them in the dryer on a high setting.
You can also hand wash your mask, using hot, soapy water. Scrub the mask for at least 20 seconds and dry it on high heat in the dryer.
If you don’t have access to a dryer don’t worry, it is just as effective to leave your mask to air dry, with the CDC advising laying the mask flat until it is completely dry and, if possible, placing the mask in direct sunlight.
Store clean masks in a clean place when you are not using them.