Naked Science Forum

Life Sciences => Physiology & Medicine => COVID-19 => Topic started by: nudephil on 27/10/2020 17:45:27

Title: Does using fabric softener to wash a facemask change its effectiveness?
Post by: nudephil on 27/10/2020 17:45:27
Marian sent us this question:

Does using fabric softener/conditioner change how effective face masks are at preventing the spread of coronavirus?


Any thoughts?
Title: Re: Does using fabric softener to wash a facemask change its effectiveness?
Post by: likehumansdo on 28/10/2020 10:58:21
A softener or conditioner is not recommended to use for a facemask as the texture can be impacted by that. The best method for me is to just wash it with really hot, freshly boiled water. If you use a washing maschine you might want to wash other cloths aswell and not just the mask.  Furthermore you also probably want to user a lower temperature for your cloths or you want to add some softener as you mentioned. Low temperature might not clean the mask properly and softeners can cause harm to the texture of the mask. Therefore I would recommend just pouring some hot water over it, let it sit for a while and then just air-dry it.
Title: Re: Does using fabric softener to wash a facemask change its effectiveness?
Post by: Bored chemist on 28/10/2020 11:05:51
A softener or conditioner is not recommended to use for a facemask as the texture can be impacted by that. The best method for me is to just wash it with really hot, freshly boiled water. If you use a washing maschine you might want to wash other cloths aswell and not just the mask.  Furthermore you also probably want to user a lower temperature for your cloths or you want to add some softener as you mentioned. Low temperature might not clean the mask properly and softeners can cause harm to the texture of the mask. Therefore I would recommend just pouring some hot water over it, let it sit for a while and then just air-dry it.
I may be wrong, but I am going to guess that you do not wear glasses.

People who wear spectacles know just how filthy faces are at the best of times, and would, I think, be less likely to say "Therefore I would recommend just pouring some hot water over it, let it sit for a while and then just air-dry it."

Anyway, here's the CDC's advice

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-wash-cloth-face-coverings.html