Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, we've all learned a lot about face masks — which ones to wear, how to wash them, how to use them properly. But, what about how to store them? Fortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the answers.
According to the CDC, soiled or wet cloth face coverings (from things like sweat or make-up) should be stored in a sealed plastic bag while awaiting washing. Make sure that you're only using this particular bag for soiled face masks. To prevent mold from forming, you will want to wash these masks — especially if they are wet — as soon as possible. "Wet masks can be hard to breathe through and are less effective than dry masks," the organization writes.
If you are instead dealing with a wet or soiled disposable mask, those should immediately be disposed of in a trash bin after use. Then, wash your hands.
As for cloth face masks that are not wet or soiled, which you plan to reuse, the CDC recommends that you store them in a dry, clean, breathable bag. Clean disposable masks can be stored in their own bag. This can be a paper bag or mesh fabric bag. When storing the mask this way, you'll want to ensure that you keep the same side of the mask facing out and away from the face. After handling a used mask, always wash your hands.
How about when you're eating or drinking outside of your home? In that case, the CDC suggests that you remove your mask, place the mask in a clean purse, pocket, or paper bag, and wash or sanitize your hands. Once you've finished eating or drinking, make sure that you put the mask on with the same side facing out and then proceed to wash or sanitize your hands again.
When storing masks between uses, the key question to ask yourself is, "Is this bag clean, dry, and breathable?" If it is, you should be good to go.