It might not be the one we wished for, but a new accessory has entered our wardrobes: the face mask. Masks are legally required to enter many public spaces, so it appears they’ll be a fixture in our lives for the foreseeable future.
As a recent study shows, single-use masks are creating a new challenge for our environment, adding plastic and plastic particle waste to our land and waterways. Thankfully, there’s an alternative. Cloth masks are more environmentally friendly and far more fashionable than their disposable counterparts, but - like all tools that we choose to keep us healthy and connected - they also require proper care.
We believe that what we’re breathing through should be clean. Many commercial laundry products and detergents are made with a range of toxic ingredients we do not want to be breathing in, like formaldehyde (a known human carcinogen), methanol (a toxic alcohol), and synthetic fragrances. A 2016 study found that 33% of Australians reported health problems like migraines and asthma attacks when exposed to fragranced products.
Everything we expose ourselves to is worth consideration. Choosing an effective and natural cleanser like Nature First™ laundry pods for your cloth face mask will keep you and your environment alive and thriving.
*imagery courtesy of Grocery Apparel
Here’s our guide to caring for your cloth face masks.
How to Choose the Right Mask
Let’s be honest: masks are not the most comfortable thing in the world. They’re stuffy, they fog up our glasses, and now “maskne” – acne caused by wearing a mask – is officially a skincare concern. It may be safe, folks, but it’s not all pretty.
Thankfully, there are ways to make mask-wearing better. Cotton masks are more breathable than synthetic materials, and don’t leach microplastics into our wastewater when we wash them. Ideally, choose a mask that’s made with 100% organic materials. A few brands making reusable masks from organic cotton are LA-based Groceries Apparel, zero-waste fashion brand Tonlé, and Gaia Conceptions, who make an organic scarf-style mask.
How to Wash a Reusable Cloth Mask
The CDC recommends you wash your mask every time you wear it (yes, every time!). This helps protect your skin from the oil, sweat, dirt, and bacteria that build up inside the mask.
Wash reusable masks on the highest recommended temperature for the fabric of your mask. As the wash cycle can cause the material to stretch or snag, consider tossing them in a mesh laundry bag. To avoid small loads of laundry with just a mask, you can wash them with your towels and bedsheets, as these can typically be washed in hot water (but check the labels first!). To dry them, pop them into your dryer on the highest setting and leave them inside until completely dry. Or, lay flat to dry, ideally in direct sunlight.
Nature First® laundry pods contain no sulfates, phosphates, GMO ingredients, petrochemicals, etc. (For the full list, check out our FAQ.) While our laundry pods smell like line-dried laundry, they contain no fragrances so you can breathe through them safely. As there’s no need to use fabric softeners or dryer sheets, you’re avoiding chemicals, too. Consider this an easy small way to make masking up a lot more manageable. Stay safe out there!