How to Wash Your COVID Mask Insert

Apr 9, 2021

From the outset of the pandemic, everyone has been looking for answers to make their face masks more comfortable. Bandanas and neck garters were grabbed early on, but proved to be ineffective. There was also high demand for N95 masks, whose shape made them more breathable and comfortable. However, unless custom-fitted, N95 masks aren’t effective either.

Finally, we discovered the face mask insert. A simple piece of plastic with a careful design. These could fit under any mask, from reusable to disposable, without compromising their effectiveness. The PowerAir mask insert in particular is specially designed to increase breathability and comfort while directing airflow downwards to prevent glasses from fogging.

Of course, to maximize protection and comfort, even the best inserts require some care.

Do Face Mask Inserts Need to be Washed?

Since they remain underneath the mask, the plastic inserts aren’t as vulnerable to external bacteria, viruses, or grime as the outside of the mask. As well, these particulates don’t stay on a plastic surface as easily, or as long, as they do on fabric.

For this same reason, inserts don’t tend to contribute much to masks smelling. Whereas the mask fabric traps in coffee breath and other odors. In fact, the improved airflow in the mask helps to dissipate odors, keeping the mask smelling pleasant for longer.

Still, it remains important to wash your mask insert periodically. Bacteria from your mouth can still build up on the surface, so it’s best to keep it clean. Daily washing is preferable, especially if you’re exercising or exerting yourself physically. However, many people wash them less frequently. Keep in mind that washing your mask insert not only keeps it clean but increases its service life.

How Long Do COVID Mask Inserts Last?

While filters tend to only last for 1-3 days, mask inserts can last for months or more. Their material is more durable and less prone to degradation. To determine whether your insert is fit for reuse it’s worth a quick inspection after each wash.

Inspecting your face mask insert:

  • Scan for visible damage. Wear and tear can change the structure and fit of the insert. This doesn't tend to come from regular wear, but can result from physical force or being crushed at the bottom of a bag.
  • Feel the edges for nicks and splits. If there are any points or sharpness to the edges of the device, it can become less comfortable for the wearer. Although still functional, it’s usually best to replace it if this occurs.
  • Inspect for visible soiling. If, even after cleaning, dirt and grime still remain on the surface, consider throwing it away. Switching to a more powerful cleaning agent could degrade the material, and the harsher chemicals aren’t ideal to place over your mouth. 

Damage is pretty uncommon unless the insert frequently undergoes rough treatment and receives little washing. But, the inspection process only takes a moment, so it’s worth doing after each wash.

How to Wash Inserts

You don’t need to be Martha Stewart to wash a face mask insert properly. Good old-fashioned soap and water are generally sufficient. Rinse the mask, lather it up with a mild soap, and rinse it off. You can use a dish brush or sponge for all the scrubbing. Although, we advise keeping your insert cleaning scrubbers separate from the ones you use on your dishes!

When done, you allow the insert to air dry or wipe it off with a clean, dry towel.

In just a couple quick minutes of washing and drying, you keep your breathable face mask insert clean, safe, and effective.

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