Making or buying a face mask is just half of it. To ensure that you and your loved ones are staying as safe and healthy as possible, it's also important to clean cloth face masks regularly to limit the spread of germs. There are differing reports on whether or not coronavirus can live on clothes. Harvard Health, in particular, suggests that the disease is more likely to live on hard surfaces (think: counter tops and door handles) than soft surfaces like fabric.
Most masks made out of cotton can be washed in the machine. If they are handsewn, they may need to be washed by hand. If so, lather masks with soap and scrub them for at least 20 seconds with warm to hot water before laying to dry. For peace of mind, iron masks on the cotton or linen setting to kill any remaining germs.
There aren't any hard and fast rules regarding how often you should wash face masks because it's really depending on the frequency of use, according to the CDC. If you want to be extra cautious or think there may be a possibility that someone is symptomatic, or has sneezed or coughed within close proximity, clean your face mask after each use.
Keep in mind that face masks in the community should be considered only as a complementary measure and not as a replacement for established preventive measures, for example physical distancing, respiratory etiquette, meticulous hand hygiene and avoiding touching the face, nose, eyes and mouth.