Tips for (Properly!) Washing a Cloth Mask


With many of us having trouble accessing or affording medical-grade masks, cloth masking remains a bedrock layer of protection for pandemic living.

Dr. Cassandra Pierre, an infectious disease physician at Boston Medical Center, cautions that “a dirty or ‘soiled’ mask can reduce the efficacy of the mask itself. It can also become an irritant to your skin if it is harboring built-up bacteria.”

So with Delta raging and Dr. Pierre’s words on my mind, I (Nerdy Girl Lindsey) realized I needed a mask-washing refresher! Here are a few key tips sourced from my sleuthing for others who might be in the same boat 😊😊😊

🧼 STICK TO THE BASICS with good ol’ soap and water

According to Dr. Gabriela Andujar Vazquez, an infectious disease physician and associate hospital epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center, “warm water and any detergent you’re used to using at home should work great.”


Heat kills coronaviruses. The World Health Organization and UK’s National Health Service recommend temperatures of at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit for treating contaminated fabrics.


Prof. Rachel Noble, a microbiologist at UNC-Chapel Hill recommends “soaking your face masks for five minutes in a solution of one teaspoon of bleach for every quart of hot water.” A heads-up: Be sure to *fully* rinse the bleach out of the mask once it’s done soaking!


As Popular Science explains, “Face masks – whether they’re DIY or store-bought – have pleats and creases that allow the material to expand and cover as much of your face as possible. When UV light hits a mask, these folds become a problem.” Moreover, “though UV lights are widely used to sanitize personal protection items in health care and lab setting, this method is often complemented by other disinfection processes, such as bleach or hydrogen peroxide.”

For more good tips and info, we recommend the recent USA Today and Popular Science articles listed in the references below.

With love,
Your Nerdy Girls


This post includes many excerpts and quotes (including the WHO and NHS temperature guidance) from this TERRIFIC Popular Science article written by Sandra Gutierrez.

Dr. Pierre’s quote sourced from USA Today

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