Mask Care 101: Where Style and Safety Meet
Mask Care 101: Where Style and Safety Meet
You’ve just bought a beautiful new reusable mask and taken it out for a spin, and you’ve never felt trendier or eco-friendlier in your life. You finally get home and take it off…but now what? Should you wash it? How? And once you’re done, where should you store it? You decide to do a bit of research and are met with everything from homemade bleach solutions, to machine washing on high heat, to ironing and ironing until your mask feels sufficiently...fried. So much for that super soft fabric or fun, bright pattern you fell in love with—in a couple of weeks, your new mask will look like you’ve had it for a couple of years. But that’s the cost of safety, right? Maybe not. In today’s blog, we’re here to answer some commonly asked questions and offer a few easy ways you can put safety first while still keeping your favorite mask in tip-top shape.
How frequently should I wash my mask?
The first thing to know is that studies have not come to conclusive evidence concerning how long the coronavirus can live on fabrics. Some experts suspect the lifespan would be similar to that on cardboard, around 24 hours, while others say it could be up to seven days. With this in mind, the safest approach is to wash your mask after every use, but as this isn’t practical for most people, a good rule of thumb is to simply wash it at the end of each day that you wear it. Other reasons to frequently wash your mask include preventing the growth of other microbes and the build-up of other substances on your mask, both of which can contribute to the pesky problem of the infamous “maskne”—a recently coined term describing acne caused by mask-wearing—and decrease the overall comfort of your mask.
When clogged up with dirt, oil, and other particles, a mask creates the perfect storm for your skin, bringing these substances into contact with your face for extended periods of time and becoming progressively less breathable, which means it will trap more sweat and particles against your skin the dirtier it gets. Alongside this, if not washed, a mask will begin to feel less comfortable, with the fabric becoming less flexible, the texture of the mask becoming rougher or grimier against your skin, and potentially a not-so-nice smell becoming more noticeable and persistent. As a general rule, if you notice any of these things, it’s probably a good idea to give your mask a bath. Many frequent mask-wearers also recommend having two masks instead of just one. This gives you a little more flexibility in keeping up with washing your masks and cuts the amount of wear-and-tear in half.
How do I wash my mask?
As mentioned before, experts recommend a variety of different approaches to washing your mask, but many of these, if carried out on a near-daily basis, would quickly leave the average mask looking pretty beaten up in a short time. Even considering premium fabrics like the Micro Modal material of a MODMASK, which is known for being remarkably durable, colorfast, shape-retaining, and anti-pilling, such repeated, harsh treatment would take its toll in time. The best approach combining health expert recommendations and thoughtful fabric care that we’ve found seems to be simply hand-washing your mask using a household detergent and hot water, then allowing it to air dry.
Because it’s such an everyday item, most people don’t perceive soap to be the amazing germ, bacteria, dirt, and virus fighting weapon it is. But that’s why the number one recommendation for preventing the spread of the coronavirus and other common illnesses is just plain old hand-washing. On a very basic level, soap bubbles capture small microbes and dirt particles and carry them down the drain. This works because soap is able to disrupt the chemical bonds allowing such particles to stick to surfaces. Specifically in terms of the coronavirus, soap molecules penetrate the lipid bilayer encasing a virus, inactivating the virus and leaving it unable to bind to or enter human cells. Keeping all this in mind, the key to hand-washing is really lathering up those soap bubbles to allow your soap to be as effective as possible.
Aside from soap, many experts also agree that heat is an effective weapon against the coronavirus. Studies have shown that the virus dies more quickly when exposed to heat, and, in addition to speeding up the dying process of the virus, warmer water also creates a better lather when using soap, increasing its effectiveness. Because of heat’s effectiveness, some experts recommend placing your mask in the dryer on high heat after washing. While this comes at the risk of causing your mask to lose its shape, texture, and color more quickly, if it makes you feel more comfortable, we say go for it. Specifically for MODMASKs, to ensure your mask retains its super soft feel for as long as possible, we recommend simply laying your mask out to dry in a location that is room temperature or warmer. Some health experts have also suggested that direct sunlight speeds up the death rate of the virus, so that might be something to consider as well when choosing a drying location.
Where should I store my mask?
Now that your mask is ready to go on its next outing, where should you put it? The most important thing is placing it somewhere you won’t forget it! Our personal favorite spots are by your keys, in a purse, or in your car. However, it’s important to keep in mind that if you share a home with other people, it’s best to avoid stacking or hanging multiple masks right next to each other because this makes it really easy for any germs, dirt, oils, etc. to transfer between them. This is especially important if some members of your family don’t wash their masks after every use!...(cough cough). Another smart mask storage tip is to consider getting a small mesh or fabric bag for your mask to add an extra layer of protection and make it easier to carry around safely when you’re not wearing it. Some final considerations when storing your mask are the factors we mentioned above. Choosing a location where your mask gets a little sun, perhaps in a window by your door, or somewhere that gets pretty warm, like the dashboard of your car, can help kill anything on your mask that might have survived the wash.
And that’s all we’ve got! Hopefully now, armed with soap, heat, a little sunlight, and a smile, you feel ready to face the day :)
Written by Rachel Cassar
MODMASK Content Writer