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How to Properly Wash and Sanitize Your Face Masks

How to Properly Wash and Sanitize Your Face Masks

During this COVID-19 pandemic, as we all make, purchase, and most importantly, strap on face masks before heading outside to complete our essential tasks, a logical question is: “How do I properly wash and sanitize my face masks, and how often?”

Speaking at recent City and County of Honolulu press conferences, Kuakini Medical Center emergency medicine physician Dr. Darragh O’Carroll recommended washing cloth masks after EVERY outing.

Wash them thoroughly by hand with lots of soap and hot water or in a washing machine with water temperature above 160°F.

To dry masks after washing, run them through a hot dryer or hang them outside in UV sunlight.

If you’re unable to wash and sanitize your face masks immediately after use, place them in a sealed plastic bag until the next use.

Unless you have been instructed otherwise by your doctor, make sure your mask is made of cloth – N-95 and surgical masks should be reserved for health care workers.

How we can all help our health care workers

“Like a community bracing for a coming flood, we’re piling up ‘sandbags’ of resources to help blunt the expected peak of Hawaii’s COVID-19 outbreak,” says Hilton Raethel, President and CEO of Healthcare Association of Hawaii (HAH). “And everyone can contribute.”

In addition to hand washing and physical distancing to slow virus transmission, Raethel says people can continue to help by wearing cloth masks and providing personal protective equipment (PPE) for our health care workers on the front lines.


HAH, whose membership includes Hawaii’s acute-care hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, hospices, assisted living facilities and other health-care-related businesses, is charged with managing and distributing Hawaii’s strategic stockpile of PPE through Hawaii Healthcare Emergency Management.

“We hear directly from hospital staff who are working as fast as they can to protect their workforce, and each of them has a different set of needs,” said Raethel. “We are helping to coordinate this, and we do not work alone. The Hawaii Department of Health and many government and community partners are teaming up to secure PPE donations to the front lines.”

“Hawaii residents always seem to shine in a crisis,” said Raethel. “And to everyone helping to make PPE or donate more, I offer a heartfelt ‘Mahalo.’” Of course, more public help is always appreciated. Raethal shared a few ways we can all help our hospitals in their need for PPE right now.

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