Published on September 25, 2020

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As summer officially ends and semi-regular work and school patterns resume, our face masks are more essential than ever before. At this point, you undoubtedly have a go-to style, one that just feels good, like that cozy sweatshirt you reach for at the end of the day. But, as is the case with most beloved clothing items, it’s probably in need of a deep clean. As we ward off bouts of “maskne” and pesky stains, the question we keep asking ourselves is simple: How do you properly clean a face mask?

New York–based laundry company The Laundress has several guides on the best ways to wash your masks and keep them fresh throughout the day (drying them in the sun makes for a natural sanitizer, for instance), but with so many fabric options on the market, we wanted to get even more specific. We reached out to Laundress founders Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd for specific laundering tips for each major mask material. Here’s what you need to know. 

Cotton

Because of the fabric’s durability, “make sure to wash cotton masks in warm or hot water,” say Whiting and Boyd. Along with regular detergent, they also recommend adding a capful or two of a bleach alternative (the Laundress has one that’s color safe).

Silk

Made of a more sensitive material, you’ll want to hand-wash this mask with a silk-specific detergent and cool water. Afterward, lay it flat on a clean towel or surface, away from hot sunlight, windows, or radiators (they can cause silk to shrink).

Linen

“Linen is stronger wet than dry,” explain Whiting and Boyd, which means you can handle it like cotton. Dealing with a lipstick smudge? Pretreat it with a stain solution first.

Polyester

Given it’s a synthetic fabric, it’s less breathable than cotton and linen, but you can treat it the same way. “Always air-dry!” they add—it will ensure elastic ear loops stay in good shape.

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