How An Ecotoxicologist Hand-Washes His Mask & Ensures It’s Sanitized


After spending years studying how microplastics shed from synthetic fabrics in the washing machine, Deheyn is a strong proponent of the good ole hand-wash—both for its environmental benefits and, more relevantly in the case of COVID, its gentleness on fabrics.

“As you shake them and wash them, the fibers will naturally stretch” Deheyn tells mbg of how cloth face masks can fare in a machine over time. The extent to which the fabric will stretch and shed in the wash largely depends on the material, says Yuly Fuentes, PhD, the program manager of fiber technologies at MIT.

While the CDC has not voiced concern that washing machines negate the effectiveness of cloth masks at all, Deheyn opts to take the cautious root and wash his by hand instead. Here’s his routine: