Washing handmade face masks

Stay safe #weareinthistogether

Face masks are on everyone’s mind these days with more and more regions recommending them to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Here are the steps on how to keep them clean and ready for action.

Can non-medical face masks be washed with Soak? Yes, absolutely– wash them by hand, or by machine.

*We recommend that you consult the health experts in your region (i.e. Health Canada, the CDC, etc.) and the World Health Organization for the most up to date information on how to use and wash face masks. With this information you can make the best decision for you 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 are 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.

Basic principles that apply to both hand and machine washing face masks:

  • 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 we can tolerate up to 40C/104F. Your tolerance level may vary.)
  • 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.

Before Washing

  1. Wash your hands for 20s immediately after returning home. (And do not touch your face while washing your mask.)
  2. Remove your mask using the ties or elastics.  Avoid touching the fabric part of the mask.
  3. 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.

Hand Washing

  1. 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.
  2.  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.
  3. Remove your mask filter (if you have one) If your filter is washable, wash it along with your mask.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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, is another layer of protection for flushing away the germs.
  7. 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.

Machine Washing:

You can use Soak in your washing machine too– not just for masks but for all of your laundry / Soakworthy things.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Dry in the dryer on high heat if possible.

After Washing:

  1. 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.

When you wash your masks with Soak share on Instagram with hashtag #Washyourmaskwithsoak 

The fine print:  The information in this post is provided as a recommendation on how to wash your face mask, based on information obtained on or before May 27. 2020. Official public health authorities for your region should be consulted for the most up-to-date information on how to wash a non-medical face mask. Mask wearing is not a substitute for hand washing and physical distancing. The methods stated above are not guaranteed to eliminate germs from your mask, but are the guidelines that are currently available to give the best chance to eliminate germs.