How to wash and care for your reusable cloth face masks

Keep your reusable face masks safe, clean and ready to use with these simple tips

Kaila Imada
Written by
Kaila Imada
Associate Editor, Time Out Tokyo
Cloth face mask
Photo: Vera Davidova/Unsplash

Whether you’ve made a simple DIY mask at home or bought one of the many cloth face masks available online, you are wondering how to best care for them so they remain sanitary and last longer. To make the most of your reusable cloth face mask, here are some tips on how to wash them after use.

How often should you wash your face mask?

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a cloth face mask should be washed after each use. If you’re wearing a face mask every day, it’s a good to have a few in rotation, so you’ll always have a clean one available.

Machine washing your face mask

The simplest way to clean your cloth face mask is to add it into your washing machine along with your other laundry. Any regular detergent will do, and the CDC recommends using the warmest water setting for the specific cloth of your mask. If you have a laundry bag, put your mask in there to keep it from getting tangled.

Hand washing your face mask

For handmade masks, which might be more delicate than the store-bought kind, hand washing is the best way to go. Lather the mask with soap and scrub it for at least 20 seconds under warm or hot water. Pat out excess water with a clean towel.

Using bleach to wash your face mask

You can also use bleach to hand wash your mask. You’ll want to find a bleach that’s safe for coloured clothing and is also intended for disinfection, so read the bleach label carefully. The CDC recommends a ratio of 4 teaspoons of bleach per 950ml of room temperature water. Soak your mask in the bleach and water solution for five minutes, then rinse it in cool or room temperature water.

Drying your mask

If you have a dryer, place the mask inside on the highest heat setting. Otherwise, just hang your mask up or lay it flat in direct sunlight to dry.

How to store your mask

It’s best to store your clean face masks in a covered container until you’re ready to use them, but make sure they’re completely dry before putting them away, to prevent mold growth.

According to the WHO, you should never wash or reuse a disposable medical face mask – these should be thrown away safely after use. Only wash and disinfect face masks that are meant for repeated use, ie those made from cloth.

See our guide on how to go out safely in Tokyo here.


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