By now you've accumulated a few cloth face masks and like any article of clothing, they need to be cleaned for them to be effective. But there are some laundry pitfalls you want to avoid when cleaning face masks. While it sounds logical to wash face masks with bleach, it may be more harmful than beneficial. While it is true that bleach is great for sanitizing hard surfaces or cleaning towels and bedding, it could irritate your skin or respiratory system; even if it is diluted. Because you need to breathe through the mask, bleach and ammonia products could be irritating your respiratory system. Additionally, fabric softeners can leave behind a chemical residue that might be unpleasant to breathe through or impact the mask's effectiveness. In fact, all you need to use to clean your face mask is water and a mild detergent. A good rule of thumb is to wash your mask after each use, even if your mask includes a filter. In addition to potentially harmful airborne contaminants, moisture from your breath, sweat, oils, and makeup can gather inside the mask and lead to bacteria growth, so plan to launder it after each wear. Because heat can destroy viruses, washing in hot water helps disinfect items more effectively than cold water. For the most effective wash, select the sanitizing cycle on your washing machine, which usually reaches a water temperature of 150-165°F and make sure you are not mixing your entire family's masks together in the same load. Separate them. When it comes to drying, the dryer is best (the heat kills viruses) and for an added level of disinfecting, consider ironing your mask on an appropriate setting for the type of fabric to kill any lingering germs and help the mask retain its shape. After washing and drying, you should store the mask in a clean container or bag before use.