- From boiling masks in pots to washing them in dishwashers to charring them in microwaves, many people are cleaning their masks in unusual ways.
- Officially the CDC advises people to throw their masks in the washing machine, and clean them routinely, while more delicate masks may require handwashing.
- When cleaning a mask, remember that heat is key, because viruses just can’t take the heat.
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The New Hampshire State Fire Marshal’s Office are urging locals not to use their microwaves in a flaw attempt to sterilise face masks.
The agency posted two photos of charred masks to their Facebook page, which they said came from residents who tried to cook their masks clean.
Some reseach found that high heat can shorten the life of the new coronavirus
Research has found that past coronaviruses, like SARS, do not like the heat.
One study, published in the Lancet, found that the SARS-CoV-2 lasted up to two weeks in a test tube with a temperature of 39 degrees Fahrenheit, but with a temperature of 99 degrees Fahrenheit, the virus only lasted a day.
Research into other coronaviruses found that heat shortened the virus’ life. A jump from 68 degrees to 86 degrees Fahrenheit slashed the amount of time the SARS virus lasted on surfaces in half, according to a study published in The Journal of Hospital Infection.
But, that does not mean a microwave is more effective than hot water. It will probably just burn or cook the mask.
How you should wash a face mask
Face masks should be routinely washed, and people should be careful when they’re handling face masks that have been used near other people, not touching their eyes, nose or mouth, and washing their hands.
According to the CDC, putting a cloth face mask in the washing machine should be enough to sterilise it.
The director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab suggested that face masks should be washed with hot water in a washing machine and dried on high heat, while more delicate masks might require handwashing with soap.
The key is using hot water, because viruses cannot live if they are exposed to hot water. Previous research has found that water heated to 140 degrees Fahrenheit has been effective at degrading most viruses.
When washing your mask, use a detergent with bleach or other active ingredients to ensure you are killing any microbes that may be on the mask.
“Changing out or laundering a cloth mask should follow the same routine as underwear,” Darrell Spurlock, director of the Leadership Centre for Nursing Education Research at Widener University told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Change them daily and when soiled.”