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Once I wear my mask, is it safe to throw it in my wash machine?

Many are wondering about the nitty-gritty of this new life with masks. We take a key question to a national expert from Mayo Clinic.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Viewer Trish Stone asks an excellent question: "What is the proper way to clean homemade masks or ones that have to be washed?"

We took that question to Dr. Greg Poland, an infectious disease expert with Mayo Clinic, Rochester.

He says used masks will not contaminate your wash. In fact, you can throw them in with your other laundry. It doesn't matter if you use hot water or not because the key is all about the ability of soap to attack the COVID-19 virus.

Dr. Poland explains:

"What soap has in it is something that decreases surface tension. In addition, soap actually gets into the membrane of the virus and inactivates it. And then you wash it away. So it punctures it—punctures the membrane? That would be a simple way to look at it. In essence, it punctures it. So in layman’s terms, it kills it off? It inactivates it so it will not contaminate you. That’s why we wash with soap and water."

Dr. Poland also says do not forget when you are wearing your mask, don't touch the outside of it and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth. You would just be infecting yourself if your mask has the virus on the outside of it. Take it off carefully using the strings and don't touch the front. Then wash it. 

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