How to clean a face mask

If you’re wearing a face mask for travel and shopping, use these tips to keep it clean

How to clean a Face mask
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We're all for weekend cleaning jobs, but how to clean a face mask? Not something we thought we'd be writing about. But there you go – a face mask, or face covering, can be worn when you’re coming into contact with people you don’t usually meet and you can’t necessarily keep the recommended two metres away from, the UK government has advised

It’s not the surgical masks worn by healthcare professionals as part of their personal protective equipment (PPE) we’re talking here. The government says these should be reserved for those who need them in the workplace. Rather, it’s a face covering that goes over your mouth and nose – we have plenty to buy and ways to make them in our face masks guide.

You might be wearing a face mask while you’re shopping, or if you’re using public transport to get where you need to be in order to reduce the risk of transmission in these more crowded indoor areas. 

Don’t forget, though, that you still need to keep all the social distancing and hand hygiene recommendations in mind even if you’re wearing a face mask.

Some face masks are disposable, of course, but there’s no reason not to invest in – or make – a re-usable version. That way, you can avoid depleting the supplies of the type of mask needed in some workplaces.

Also vital? Keeping your face mask clean and using it correctly to keep yourself and others healthy. We’ve got the cleaning advice you’ve been looking for.

How to clean a face mask

1. You should wash a face mask after each use.

2. Keep your cloth face mask in a plastic bag until you can wash it. It shouldn’t be left lying around, and you’ll have to clean any surfaces it’s touched.

3. A cloth face mask can go in with your usual laundry, and you don’t need any special detergent either – your usual washing liquid or powder will do the job fine. If you’ve bought the face mask, it should come with washing instructions. Made one yourself from a cotton T-shirt or an old pillowcase, perhaps? Always use the hottest laundry cycle you can for the material from which the face covering is made.

4. Make sure the mask is completely dry before you put it on again. In other words, you’ll likely need more than one so you’ve always got a freshly washed and dry face covering to use.

5. Don’t forget the other face mask essentials:

Be sure to wash your hands (or use hand sanitiser) before putting the face mask on. Once you’ve taken it off? Yup, you need to wash your hands throughly, too. 

Make sure you don’t touch the front, or the part of the face mask that’s been in contact with you nose and mouth at any time.