Viewer Susan F. asked the VERIFY team, “How bad is it to NOT wash your re-usable face mask?”
The majority of states now require masks statewide, which means many people have turned to reusable options instead of single-use throwaways.
Public health agencies haven’t said explicitly what the potential harm is in not washing a mask, however they have offered advice on how often a person should be washing their mask.
Overall, officials say you should be washing masks pretty often.
WHAT WE FOUND
According to advice from the World Health Organization, you should wash fabric masks in soap or detergent, and preferably with hot water, at least once a day.
“If you need to reuse a fabric mask, store it in a clean re-sealable bag. Hold the mask at the elastic ends when removing it from the bag, and make sure it is not dirty or wet before using it again,” the WHO said in a video addressing the question.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggests similar steps be taken, saying, “Cloth face coverings should be washed after each use. It is important to always remove face coverings and wash your hands after handling or touching a used face covering.”
The WHO also advises inspecting masks before putting it on to ensure they are not damaged or dirty. If it gets wet or dirty, WHO suggests changing to a different mask.
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