Effectively Sterilizing Your Face Masks Against COVID-19
Wearing a cloth face mask is part of our new normal. The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon, and the novel coronavirus is likely to still be around as we slowly start moving out of quarantine and heading back to work.
Because of this, we need to wear as many layers of protection as we can. Staying home, social distancing, and handwashing are still our best bets to slow down the spread of coronavirus, but it never hurts to be extra-safe. And since the virus most commonly enters through our eyes, noses, and mouths, a reusable cloth mask is probably going to be part of our everyday lives for the foreseeable future.
Wearing a cloth mask, however, is only part of the equation. If we want to protect ourselves and other people from the coronavirus, we need to make sure that the masks we use are consistently sterilized. Here are a few tips on how to make sure your cloth masks are completely virus-free:
Boil Them in Water
Scientists have found that it takes extreme heat to kill the virus. In recent tests, it was found that it takes a 15-minute soak in nearly boiling water to fully sterilize an object from the coronavirus.
This means that, if you want your cloth masks completely virus-free, your best bet is to boil it in water for about 15 minutes.
Just make sure that you can get a steady supply of masks if you decide to go with this strategy. There’s a chance that the aggressive heating can damage the fabric over time, so try to limit the boiling to just 10 times.
Use Hot Water in Your Washing Machine
If you have only limited access to masks, you can simply use good old detergent and hot water to disinfect your face mask.
Laundry detergent can kill coronavirus in the same way soap does: By destroying the virus’ outer membrane. By using water that’s been heated to about 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit), you can help weaken that membrane and turn your washer into a coronavirus-killing machine.
No Washing Machine? Try Hot Water and Bleach
A five-minute soak in hot water and bleach should also be enough to disinfect fabric. Again, the water does the work of weakening the virus, while the bleach kills it.
Just make sure you’re using a safe amount of bleach. The USA’s CDC recommends using 1 cup of bleach per gallon of water to make a strong enough solution. That’s the equivalent of 3 teaspoons bleach for a cup of water.
Be careful when using bleach! Avoid direct contact with your skin, and rinse your mask very thoroughly after soaking.
Keep a Three-Day Supply, Minimum
Even if you do any of the above three methods, there’s no guarantee that you’ll do them perfectly. That’s why it’s important to avoid using the same mask on back-to-back days, if possible.
Scientists have found that the coronavirus can survive on fabric for up to 2 days. That means that you need to wait about 2 days after washing before you can be sure that the virus is gone. Having at least three cloth masks at home can help you guarantee that you’ll have a fully disinfected mask to use for each day of the week.
If you’re a business owner who wants to take care of your employees by providing them with an adequate supply of face masks, you can check out this link.
Store Your Masks Separately
The best way to make sure your masks stay disinfected for the next time you use them is to keep them in sterile containers. Any airtight container will do, as long as you keep only one mask inside. This way, there’s no chance of the virus spreading from a freshly washed mask onto one that’s been sitting for two days.
As the world adjusts to the new normal, you’ll be relying more and more on the added protection your face mask provides. Proper disinfection and maintenance of your mask needs to be a part of your daily routine if you want to help #FlattenTheCurve. Follow the tips above, and stay safe.