With Governor Edwards's mask mandate going into effect, it's important to learn proper care for your new favorite accessory. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cloth masks ought to be washed "after each use," and you should wash your hands after touching your used mask. This is because droplets can collect on masks, so washing them allows you to limit the likelihood of contamination. SFGatereports that infectious disease physician Dr. Cassandra Pierre suggests that you should wash your mask as soon as possible if someone coughs or sneezes on you.
Cleaning your cloth mask by hand or in the washing machine is a good option, so yes, it's perfectly acceptable to toss your mask in with a load of laundry. If you choose to wash it in a washing machine, the CDC recommends using the warmest water temperature appropriate for the mask's fabric. Once it's washed, you can either air dry your mask, ideally in direct sunlight, or put it in the dryer until it's completely dry.
While N95 and surgical masks are not recommended for public use because of demand from medical professionals, it's possible that you already have one and are wondering how to clean it. Both N95 and surgical masks are designed to be used only once, but SFGate reports that hospitals have been storing them for a few days between uses in "clean, ventilated receptacles that allow them to air out." This means placing your N95 or surgical mask in a paper bag for three days between uses. You'll need quite a few of these masks in order to regularly go out, so we recommend investing in a cloth face mask or two.
For step-by-step instructions on how to hand-wash your cloth mask, go to www.cdc.gov.