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6 Tips For Finding And Using A Washable Face Mask

by Daniel Herrera

A washable personal protection face mask needs to meet a certain set of requirements to provide maximum value. Likewise, you'll need to handle your washable personal protection mask the right way. Here are 6 tips for finding and using one.

No Valves

Masks with valves are often seen on new reports in use by professionals, but the medical consensus is they're not a great choice. In particular, when the application involves the possibility you might be sick and not know it, the valve promotes exhaling droplets that may endanger others. The valves lack filtration, and that means they can't assure safety. Someone working at a nursing home, for example, may exhale infectious droplets through the valve.

Good Fit

The ability to adjust the fit around the nose and mouth is critical. Adjusting the fit significantly reduces the risk that air will be exchanged through loose openings. Most medical masks, for example, are slightly loose around the muzzle to allow the wearer to press the materials tightly against the bridge of the nose for a tighter seal.


A mask with more than one layer is going to provide superior protection to something with a single layer. Double-layered is good, but triple-layered is optimal.

Washable Materials

There is a strong argument for materials that can be reused, and that favors the washable personal protection face mask. Cotton is an excellent choice, and higher-grade materials similar to quilters cotton are the best within that class. Neoprene is also a good choice, and flannel is something of the bronze medalist.


You want a mask with bands that hold everything tight to your face. Most available models use loops that go behind the ears, but these can be challenging for use over many hours. Some models are made with two bands that go around the back of the head, one above the ears and one below. There are also pull-up gaiters, but these are often made from thin materials that may be less effective.

Washing Your Masks

Stay acutely aware of the material choices for your masks. A shrunken mask can create a poor fit. When washing, choose the warmest water setting that's acceptable for the materials based on the manufacturer's instructions.

You can clean your masks with your regular laundry and expect good results. However, if you want maximum cleaning for viruses, the CDC recommends washing by hand with 4 teaspoons of bleach for every quart of water you use.