Did you know that Soak can be used to wash a lot of your #soakworthy things? From bras, to yarn and knit projects, quilts, workout wear, stuffies, shoes, dogs (yes dogs…and sheep for that matter!), and more – Soak is great for many of your favourite washables. We never imagined that we’d be talking to you about washing face masks with Soak. But here we are in 2020 – the year of the coronavirus, and uncharted waters.
As regions have been recommending, and sometimes mandating wearing face masks as part of the strategy in reducing the spread of COVID-19, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about washing non-surgical face masks with Soak.
So, can you wash face masks with Soak? The short answer is YES. Non-medical, reusable cloth masks can absolutely be washed with Soak – by hand, or machine.
As we are the experts about Soak (and not the experts about coronaviruses), the appropriate authorities in your area (such as Health Canada, the CDC, and the World Health Organization, are the best source of information, on how to use and clean non-medical, reusable face masks.
Though the general principles are the same, recommendations vary slightly by source for washing your face mask. Consult the experts and make the best decision for yourself and your family, based on your particular circumstances and considering the material of your face mask. The information below gives general guidelines from the public health governing bodies that we consulted on mask washing. Note that these instructions do not apply to N95 or other medical-grade masks.
Hand Washing or Machine Washing?
Yes to both…kind of. Depending on the source, both hand and/or machine washing were recommended. (And yes, you can also use Soak in your HE washing machine). Clearly, your option depends on whether you have access to a washer and dryer – or not.
In general I hand wash my masks, as I use them primarily for doing my weekly trip to the grocery store and pharmacy – so light use. And I may need it before I’m ready to do a load of laundry. If I happen to be throwing a load in the machine, I will wash them with my other laundry too.
Basic principles that apply to both hand and machine washing:
- Wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds before and after washing your mask.
- Wash your mask after every use.
- Use water as warm as the fabric (and your hands for hand washing) can tolerate.
(Ideally at least 60C/140F for machine washing. For hand washing I can tolerate up to 40C/104F.)
- When you wash your mask, it’s also a good time to inspect it for holes or worn fabric.
Hold it up to the light when dry, and if you can see through the fabric in one area, or there’s a hole, it’s time to replace your mask.
- Wash your hands for 20s immediately after returning home. (And do not touch your face while washing your mask.)
- Remove your mask using the ties or elastics. Avoid touching the fabric part of the mask.
- Fold in half with the part that was touching your face to the inside and deposit in a basin or washing machine (or sealable, non-permeable bag if you are out and must remove your mask – don’t forget to sanitize or wash your hands after).
At Soak we use the Phil basin to hold our masks until we’re ready to wash them. You can keep your Phil basin wherever you remove your mask (or clothing if you are a front line worker, caregiver etc.) and use it to transport your items to your washing area.
- Add hot water to your basin or sink. Normally we recommend cool or warm water to wash your Soakworthy things, with Soak, but hot water (or as warm as your fabric can tolerate) is important for mask washing.
- Add a capful of your favourite Soak scent. Use Scentless if you are at all sensitive to scent since the mask will be next to your nose.
- Remove your mask filter (if you have one) If your filter is washable, wash it along with your mask.
- Submerge your face mask to get it wet/saturated with water and Soak. You’ll see the color of the fabric get darker, when it is fully saturated. Soak is PH neutral, which means that it will be gentle on your hands while you hand wash.It’s also okay to add other Soakworthy things to your basin while you are washing your mask. Just be sure that the items you add can tolerate the same water temperature as you are using for your mask.
- Scrub your mask for 20 seconds. If you want, you can add a bit more Soak directly to the mask before scrubbing, for extra assurance. Soak will not produce a big lather, but you will see more suds than usual when you use hot water with Soak.
- Rinse your mask thoroughly in hot water. Although Soak is a no-rinse product, we recommend rinsing your masks (and anything else you are washing with them) after washing with Soak. Soak works along with the scrubbing action to lift the germs off of the fibres of your mask. Though technically the Soak traps the germs, rinsing is another layer of protection for flushing away the germs.
- Squeeze out excess moisture, and hang to dry in direct sunlight if possible. (or dry in a dryer on hot). Then follow the After Washing steps below. Once your mask is dry, you can iron your cotton mask on high heat for extra protection.
You can use Soak in your washing machine too– not just for masks but for all of your laundry / Soakworthy things.
- Add masks to the machine. It is okay to add the mask(s) in with your regular load of laundry. We also recommend using an Eco Wash Bag for your masks so they don’t get lost in the machine, or so the mask straps don’t get tangled in other laundry.
- Add Soak as per your HE machine’s instructions and wash on hot, or warm. It is recommended to wash at a minimum of 60C/140F.
- Dry in the dryer on high heat if possible.
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds after washing your mask by hand or by machine. You can apply Handmaid luxury hand cream too, which helps soothe over washed hands. It absorbs into your skin quickly, which means you can move on to your next task right away.
For a demonstration on how to wash your face mask, see our video (with my 11 year old son helping out in the background), in Soak School. And we encourage you to regularly consult the recommendations from the sources listed above on washing masks as information and understanding of the best way to stop the spread of the COVID-19 tends to evolve quickly.
Stay safe. Stay Soakworthy.