Let’s Face it: Proper Mask Hygiene

Keep your Mask Clean” or “Wash Masks Frequently. RHN Team, ©2020, Clemson University

Keep your Mask Clean” or “Wash Masks Frequently.
RHN Team, ©2020, Clemson University

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), masks, along with proper hand hygiene and social distancing, are recommended to help prevent and slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). There are many different types of masks. Some masks are intended for single-use, and others, like cloth or fabric masks, can be reused. Proper mask hygiene is just as important as wearing a mask. Mask hygiene includes proper application and removal of your mask along with routine cleaning.

When putting on a mask, make sure that your hands are clean and use the strings, ear loops, or ties to place the face mask over both your face and your nose. Masks are less effective if your mouth or nose is exposed or your mask does not fit securely against your face (i.e., masks resting below the chin or hanging loosely). While wearing your mask, avoid touching your face or facial covering. When it is appropriate to remove your mask, follow similar steps for application. Again, wash your hands before removing and use the strings, ear loops, and ties to remove your facial covering. Fold the outside edges of the mask together and place it in the washing machine or sink, if washing by hand.

Masks should be washed daily. Masks can be washed with the household laundry using regular washing detergent and warm water. If washing by hand, use warm water and a disinfecting bleach solution. Visit the CDC’s website for additional information about proper mask washing by hand and preparing your bleach solution: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-wash-cloth-face-coverings.html. Once your mask has been washed, allow the mask to dry completely- either in a dryer or by air drying in direct sunlight, if possible. Regular mask washing ensures maximum protection against the transmission of bacteria or viruses.


  1. How to Safely Wear and Take Off a Cloth Face Covering. (2020, August 7). Retrieved August 27, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-wear-cloth-face-coverings.html
  2. How to Wash a Cloth Face Covering. (2020, May 22). Retrieved August 27, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-wash-cloth-face-coverings.html
  3. Potts, D. J. (2020, June 16). Part of wearing a mask is washing a mask: Here’s the best way. Retrieved August 27, 2020, from https://news.llu.edu/health-wellness/part-of-wearing-mask-washing-mask-here-s-best-way

To read more about proper handwashing and preventing burnout during the pandemic, visit:

HGIC 4360, Handwashing – It Makes a Difference!  also see, HGIC blog: Burnout.

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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