Yes, surgical masks can be washed in a washing machine, but disposable blue surgical masks cannot be laundered or cleaned. Masks made of fabric, such as cotton, can be washed in your regular laundry using hot water.
In the era of global health awareness, the use of surgical masks has become commonplace to protect ourselves and others from contagious diseases. However, as the need for sustainability and cost-effectiveness grows, the question arises: can surgical masks be washed in a washing machine? This article delves into this topic, providing essential dos and don’ts, along with step-by-step instructions and alternative methods for washing surgical masks.
Dos and Don’ts of Wash Surgical Mask In Washing Machine
Use Fabric Masks: Fabric masks, especially those made from materials like cotton, can be washed in a washing machine. These reusable masks are designed to withstand multiple wash cycles without compromising their effectiveness.
Regular Washing: Regularly washing your fabric surgical masks helps maintain their hygiene and ensures their durability over time.
Hot Water: Washing masks with hot water helps to remove any potentially harmful microbes effectively. It’s recommended to use water at a temperature of at least 60°C (140°F) for thorough disinfection.
Mild Detergent: Use a mild detergent that doesn’t contain harsh chemicals that could potentially degrade the fabric or cause skin irritations.
Disposable Masks: Disposable, blue surgical masks are not meant to be washed or reused. They are designed for single-use and should be discarded after use.
Bleach or Harsh Chemicals: Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals when washing fabric masks, as these substances can damage the fabric’s integrity and reduce the mask’s effectiveness.
Overcrowding: Don’t overcrowd the washing machine with too many masks. Give them enough space to move around and get thoroughly cleaned.
High Heat Drying: While high heat drying might seem like a good idea, it can shrink or distort the fabric of the mask, making it less comfortable and effective.
Washable Surgical Masks
Surgical masks that are made from fabric, such as cotton, are washable and reusable. These masks are a sustainable alternative to single-use disposable masks and can provide effective protection when used and cared for correctly. When washing these masks in a washing machine, here’s how you can do it:
Steps to Wash Surgical Mask in the Washing Machine
Check the care label on the mask for any specific washing instructions.
Remove any filters or removable components from the mask before washing.
Separate the masks from other laundry items to prevent cross-contamination.
Place the masks in the washing machine, ensuring that you don’t overcrowd them.
Add a mild detergent to the washing machine. Avoid using too much detergent, as it can lead to soap residue buildup on the masks.
Set the washing machine to use hot water (at least 60°C or 140°F) for effective disinfection.
Use a regular washing cycle. Avoid using heavy agitation settings, as this can damage the mask’s fabric.
After washing, remove the masks promptly from the washing machine.
Gently reshape the masks and allow them to air dry. Avoid high heat drying, as it can damage the fabric.
Once the masks are completely dry, store them in a clean and dry place until their next use.
Alternative Washing Methods for Surgical Mask:
If you don’t have access to a washing machine, there are alternative methods to clean your fabric surgical masks:
Hand Washing: Fill a basin with hot water and a mild detergent. Gently agitate the masks in the water, rinse thoroughly, and allow them to air dry.
Boiling: Boil the masks in water for about 5 minutes to disinfect them. Allow them to cool before rinsing and drying.
Can I wash disposable blue surgical masks? Answer: No, disposable blue surgical masks are designed for single-use and should not be washed. They should be discarded after use.
What water temperature should I use when washing fabric masks? Answer: Use hot water with a temperature of at least 60°C (140°F) for effective disinfection.
Can I use bleach to clean my fabric surgical masks? Answer: It’s best to avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals, as they can damage the fabric. Stick to a mild detergent.
How often should I wash my fabric masks? Answer: It’s recommended to wash fabric masks after each use to maintain hygiene and effectiveness.
Can I machine dry my fabric surgical masks? Answer: It’s better to air dry your fabric masks to prevent shrinkage and fabric damage that high heat drying can cause.
In the quest for sustainability and cost-effectiveness, washing fabric surgical masks in a washing machine can be a viable option. Remember that while fabric masks are reusable, disposable blue surgical masks are not meant to be washed or reused. By following the proper dos and don’ts and using the correct washing methods, you can ensure that your fabric masks remain clean, effective, and comfortable for multiple uses.