My favorite purchase of 2020 was a bundle of silk face masks that I bought in store on Etsy. I wear it every time I leave my home, and I always keep it in my purse just in case I forget to grab it on my way out. After every few days, I toss them in the wash with the rest of my clothes, but I often wonder: Am I washing my face masks sufficiently? Think of your face masks as if they were underwear, says Jessica Malate Rivera, MS, epidemiologist, infectious disease and science communication specialist with the COVID Tracking Project. “Just change it after every wear,” she says. She has seven masks that she loves to keep circulating, one for each day of the week. This is a bit extreme, but having at least two in a spin is ideal, so have at least one clean mask available at all times. Rivera says you can use single, reusable masks for an entire day – even if you go out in the morning, come home to stop, and then come out again at night, that’s okay – and throw them into the laundry before bed. The same is true for single-use masks, except for switching “washer” for “trash.” Use one a day, throw out it, and have a new one the next day. But Rivera urges everyone to try reusable masks, if possible. “I don’t recommend using surgical masks because they are not environmentally friendly,” she says. Use them sparingly and cut the bars [when you throw them away]. “Washing reusable face masks less than once per use will not increase the chances of catching COVID-19. It is just… kind of blunt, and it can produce intoxicating or strange odors. But it is better to come up with a dirty mask than skip the mask. Exactly. Rivera explains: “I don’t think if you wear a two-day mask, you will be X% more susceptible to the virus.” “You just want to wear a mask that covers your face properly with the right materials.” You can wash off the reusable mask as you would any other. Another piece of cloth – either toss it in the laundry or wash it by hand with soap and water. It’s best to use hot water and dry it with high heat, but Rivera says: “Soap is amazingly damaging to this virus.” “You don’t have to worry about it being too harsh sterilization conditions to kill the virus if it is,” Rivera says. “To keep your mask clean for as long as you wear it, you should avoid messing with it. Try not to touch the outside of the mask – if you need to adjust or take it off and take it off, make sure you only touch the straps. It should go without saying, but don’t share. “Masks are for individuals,” Rivera says. “You won’t share your underwear.” Alt Natasha Bhuyan, Regional Manager and Provider at One Medical, for Refinery29 Refinery you should update your supply of reusable masks every six to 12 months, or whenever you see light through the fabric when you hold the fabric to a light source. This is a sign that the material has been compromised. Even with the launch of the COVID-19 vaccine, we will be wearing masks for a longer time. They work, and they’re what will help us nurture us across the finish line of this thing. Whether you love them or hate them, a refreshing mask is more fun than a dirty one. Like what you see? How about more quality R29, here?