How to wash protective masks in a washing machine

Last updated 20/05/2020 09:13

Issue

  • How to wash protective masks in a washing machine
  • How to properly wash reusable face masks

Applies to

  • reusable face masks
  • washing machines
  • dryers

Resolution

1. In addition to the recommendations given by the governments, medical experts and the media, regarding the disinfection of washable masks in the washing machines, we suggest the following :

  • It is important to remember that the washing machine cycles are not defined to best respond to such disinfection.
  • Nevertheless, for the best efficiency, we recommend the 60°C cotton cycle (no ECO cotton cycle) with, if possible an option strengthening the washing cycle (refer to the user manual of your washing machine )
  • Check the washing and drying instructions given by the mask manufacturer.


2. Advice, before washing the masks:

  • Disinfection of the washing machine is recommended by the French Standardization Association (AFNOR) in its guide, which has received a lot of media attention in recent weeks and can be downloaded from its site (English version).
  • “It is recommended before washing the face masks to clean your washing machine, by carrying out a cold rinse with bleach or by running it empty at 60°C or 95°C without spinning." (AFNOR SPEC S76-001 "Face masks. Guide to minimum requirements, test methods, manufacture and use. Mass production and hand-made garments")


2. Washing the face mask:

  • Load the washing machine with masks and other textiles (add i.e. old sheet or terry towels, to ensure the mechanical aspect of the wash) to make at least half of load, and use the appropriate quantity of detergent.
  • The addition of bleach and fabric softener is not recommended (allergies).
  • Select cycle Cotton 60°C, and an option strengthening the washing cycle, if available ( Intensive, Anti-allergy, Cotton hygiene, Baby Protect). For more information refer to the user manual.


3. Drying the face mask:

  • The masks must be dried for a maximum of two hours after washing
  • Load the dryer, choose programme "cotton - cupboard dry". Clean the dryer's filters after the cycle is finished
  • As an alternative, dry the masks with a hairdryer. Please note that drying cannot in any circumstance replace the machine washing (cotton cycle at 60°C) necessary after each use.
  • Do not use your oven or microwave for face masks drying


4. Ironing

  • Steam ironing is recommended to remove wrinkles (all following the mask manufacturer's instructions). Take care to avoid damaging the mask components, in particular the head harness. Please note that ironing cannot in any circumstance replace the machine washing (cotton cycle at 60°C) necessary after each use. 


Q&A:

1. Why not use the Cotton ECO or energy label cycle?

  • These cycles are defined to meet the obligation of washing performance and energy-saving results. The cycle is longer to promote mechanical stirring, which reduces the water temperature to save energy. The temperature criterion of 60 ° for the expected disinfection is not sufficiently assured.


2. Why do I need to clean the washing machine before washing masks?

Recommended by AFNOR to eliminate the allergens potentially present in the tank (bleach, fabric softener, etc.), and thus avoid their re-deposition in the fibres of the mask (risk during their inhalation for sensitive people).

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