Protective face masks are largely one-size-fits-all. Too bad laundry protocols aren’t! These days, masks come in all kinds of shapes, colors, and fabrics, usually without a handy washing instructions tag. (Pro: No itchy cheeks. Con: What does it want???) White versus dark, silk, cotton, or spandex...it’s a lot to keep straight, especially if the only special treatment your regular laundry gets is a round trip ticket to the dry cleaner’s. Luckily, laundry experts Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd have it all down to a science (they did co-found The Laundress, after all). Once you know what you’re dealing with, it’s a lot easier to follow guidelines from the CDC for proper mask hygiene, and ensure that anything you do in the laundry room today won’t cause your face to break out tomorrow. Let’s get to washing.
As this study in The Lancet Microbe notes, SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is highly sensitive to heat. So soap and hot water is your best bet for thoroughly yet gently disinfecting your mask—the WHO recommends running your laundry machine between 140 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit for it to work.