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Now that wearing a face mask is a part of our daily routine, it’s important to know how often your mask should be cleaned.

Coronavirus has changed our lives like never before. Not only have you learned how to make your own mask, but “social distancing” has become a way of life. So now that you own a wardrobe of face masks, how often should you be washing these? Should you wash them after every use like underwear or after a few wears like jeans? More importantly, how do you even wash these things?

4. Why Wear a Face Mask?

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When the pandemic began, it wasn’t required to wear a face mask in public when running to the grocery store or other essential businesses. As we’ve learned more about the virus and how easily it can spread, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends wearing face masks “in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.” Wearing a face mask has become the norm and not wearing one can make you look like an outcast.

3. How Should a Face Mask Fit?

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Your friends on Facebook have proudly posted their DIY face masks made of old t-shirts, scarves, bandanas and more everyday items. But since these aren’t professionally made, how can you ensure they are safe and effective?

The CDC has provided instructions on how to properly wear a face mask. The mask should:

  • Fit tightly around the face
  • Include a tie or ear loop
  • Be more than one layer of fabric
  • Allow for unrestricted air ventilation
  • Be washable by hand or machine
  • Not change in shape after washing
Related: Best Face Masks For Children 3-9 Years Old

2. How Often Should You Wash Your Face Mask?

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COVID-19 can survive on surfaces for much longer than you think. This is why face masks should be worn and properly stored to reduce the risk of infection. There are many different types of face masks, from cloth to surgical to N95 respirators. All can work effectively if used correctly. This article pertains specifically to the cloth masks that can be worn by the public daily.

How do you determine how often to wash your mask? The CDC’s answer is regularly, “depending on the frequency of use.” Research scientist Dr. Daniel Griffin from Columbia University told NPR that face masks should be washed as often as underwear: after each time it is worn.

Griffin says, “You don’t take this dirty mask off, put it in your purse and then stick it back on your face. It’s something that once you put on, is potentially either touching your coughs, sneezes or the spray of your speech or protecting you from the coughs, spray, speech of other people. And now it’s dirty. It needs to basically be either discarded or washed.”

Do you know what is the difference between disinfecting and sanitizing your mask? Read here to understand the differences.

1. How to Disinfect Your Face Mask

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If you want to see how to remove your face mask properly, check out this YouTube video made by the World Health Organization. First, remove the ear loops and do not touch the front of your mask. Once you’ve successfully removed the mask, according to the CDC this is the time to wash it. You can wash it by machine, hand or even in the oven!

Related: The Number 1 Way to Store Your Face Mask
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