How To Look After Your Face Mask

These days, face coverings are a common sight – with fashion girls showing us the stylish way to wear one. But whether you opt to use a disposable or fabric one, storing it properly and keeping it clean and hygienic should be the top priority. From the ideal washing temperature to the safest care solutions, here’s what you should know.


If your mask is wet or dirty, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) advises you keep it in a plastic bag until you find a moment to wash it. Whether it’s wet or dirty from sweat, saliva, make-up, or other liquids or substances, keeping it in a sealed plastic bag until you can wash it will prevent it from becoming mouldy. It’s also worth remembering that when wet, masks can be hard to breathe through and are less effective than dry masks.

If your mask hasn’t become wet, you should still ensure you wash your hands after touching a used mask. “Keep it in a dry, breathable bag (like a paper or mesh fabric bag) to keep it clean between uses,” adds the CDC. Finally, if you’re taking off your mask to eat or drink, place it somewhere safe to keep it clean, and wash or sanitize your hands after removing it. After eating, put the mask back on with the same side facing out. 


In the machine…

When the time comes to wash a reusable mask, experts at the CDC say it’s perfectly okay to include it in your regular laundry load – especially bandannas, face scarves and masks made out of cotton. “Use regular laundry detergent and the appropriate settings according to the fabric label,” they advise. You might consider using a non-scented laundry detergent if you’re sensitive to fragrance so it is easier to wear once clean. 

By hand…

If you prefer, you can always wash your mask with tap water and laundry detergent or soap in the sink by hand. Just remember to scrub for at least 20 seconds and rinse it thoroughly with clean water to remove detergent or soap. 

Lloyds Pharmacy also suggests concocting your own bleach solution to ensure a more thorough clean. First, check the label to see if your bleach is intended for disinfection, as some products might not be safe for use on coloured clothing. Then, make sure it’s not past its expiration date and never mix bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. From there, mix a solution of bleach by mixing 5 tbsp of household bleach with 3.8lt of room-temperature water. Soak the mask in the solution for five minutes. Finally, rinse thoroughly with cool or room-temperature water.


In the tumble dryer…

It’s also possible to dry your mask in the tumble dryer. The CDC advises you use the hottest setting possible, though, to ensure any resident germs or bacteria are completely killed off, while Lloyds Pharmacy says you should always check the label to ensure all fabrics used in a reusable mask are tumble dryer-compatible. 

Air drying…

If you prefer to air dry, or don’t have access to a tumble dryer, hang your mask in direct sunlight instead. If you cannot do so, hang or lay it flat and let it dry completely, adds the CDC. 


Want to know more? Here, Lloyd’s Pharmacy’s clinical team helps us answer five important questions…

Do you need to clean a disposable mask?

In short, the clue is in the name. “If you’re using a disposal face mask, this can’t be cleaned and should be removed and disposed of carefully,” explain the clinical team at Lloyd’s Pharmacy. “Just remember to wash your hands after removing the mask and before you apply a new one.”

Can you clean a face mask filter?

Filters should be replaced regularly, so it’s not okay to wash them in the same way you would the main covering, say the experts. “If your reusable mask has a filter, remove the filter from the mask and dispose of it before washing the mask as you would in the steps above.”

How long do reusable face coverings last?

In short, this largely depends on the covering, say the clinical team. “Make sure to check the specifications for your coverings. For example, the Kisetsu water-repellent reusable face coverings and reusable fabric face coverings are suitable to be washed up to 20 times.” If you’re looking to extend the life of yours, consider purchasing a couple and keeping them on rotation.

So, how many face coverings do you need?

“This will depend on how many times you go out during the week to places which require you to wear a face covering,” explains the Lloyds team. “Two face coverings is a good place to start so you can have one clean and one in the wash, but you need enough face coverings to be able to wash them between uses.” Also, bear in mind that the World Health Organization says you shouldn’t share your mask with others, so make sure you have enough for the whole family.

Is there such a thing as the best reusable face mask?

“The best face mask for you will depend on your needs,” explain the Lloyds clinical pros. “If you don’t want to have to worry about washing your face mask, you might want to consider a disposal face mask as they are single use.” That said, reusable face masks have multiple benefits – including the fact they’re much better for the environment. 

For more information on health and hygiene practices during the coronavirus pandemic, visit or

Inspired? Here’s our edit of the most stylish face coverings out there right now…


Fashion. Beauty. Culture. Life. Home
Delivered to your inbox, daily